By Dorothy Tucker

(CBS) — Maybe all you need to stay on your New Year’s diet is to put some money on the line.

It worked for these people. They lost weight and turned a few bucks into thousands.

CBS 2’S Dorothy Tucker explains.

People gamble at casinos hoping to win. Some Chicagoans are betting they’ll make money by actually losing weight.

School bus driver Mary Jo Armstrong says she won $300 because she lost 26 pounds.

Armstrong achieved her winnings with an app called HealthyWage.

She was part of team promoted through her school district. Each member waged $75 for the chance to win more.

Gretchen Gallois of Naperville District 203 says more than 500 people participated, with winnings of $27,664.

David Roddenberry with HealthyWage says the possibility of losing money is a real motivator for people to lose the weight.

Other apps are StepBet and DietBet.

Danni Allen bet $25 and lost 10 pounds in four weeks with DietBet.

“I got actually about $45 back on the return, because I lost the weight, plus they split the pot of the people who, unfortunately, did not lose the weight,” Allen says.

The apps do not recommend a particular diet. It’s up to each individual to choose a plan.

Ed Marx is another HealthyWage loser of 36 pounds.

“For me, personally, I just tried to exercise,” he says. “I really watched my carbs, stayed away from pizza, burritos, bread.”

Marx’s team of family and friends hit the jackpot, winning $2,000 each after everyone paid $75 to join.

For Armstrong, HealthyWage has changed the way she lives.

“I’m making much healthier choices. My food preferences now are much different. I’d rather have some cottage cheese and berries than ice cream.”

Not all challenges involve losing weight. Some are for maintaining weight or increasing the steps you take.

HealthyWage says it has paid out $1 million to 35,000 Chicago participants.