In recent years, the surge in online sports betting has significantly impacted college life, according to various reports. Gambling is becoming an increasingly integral part of many students’ experiences, and experts suggest that the accessibility of wagering has made it almost second nature for the mobile phone-centric generation, leading to a rise in problem gambling cases.
Evan Ozmat, a psychology doctoral student at the University at Albany, initiated a counseling project in 2020 to address health issues among undergraduate students. However, the unexpected prevalence of gambling emerged as a common topic during sessions, indicating its pervasive influence. Ozmat noted, “Since the project began three years ago, students have spontaneously brought up gambling in every appointment. It’s omnipresent.”
The growing prevalence of on-campus betting is likened to binge drinking by some experts. A recent NCAA study focused on Americans aged 18 to 22 to explore their gambling habits, revealing that 60% have participated in sports betting, with 4% admitting to daily wagering. Additionally, 6% reported losing over $500 in a single day. Two-thirds of men and 51% of women engaged in sports betting activities, regardless of the legality of betting in their areas.
Surprisingly, the legality of betting did not significantly impact participation rates. According to the survey, respondents in legal betting areas versus illegal ones reported similar engagement in sports betting activities. Reports suggest that up to one in 10 college students may be classified as problem gamblers. Some students highlight positive aspects of betting, such as fostering friendships, a love for sports, and heightened engagement with on-field actions.
While around 60% of those who wagered in the NCAA survey reported betting amounts of $20 or less, health experts express concerns about the potential risks as sports betting gains more popularity. Clinical professor of psychiatry and head of UCLA’s gambling studies program, Dr. Timothy Fong, emphasizes the need for continued education about the realities of this activity as it becomes a normalized part of the culture.
The American Gaming Association recently underscored the industry’s significant growth, predicting a record number of NFL bettors for the current season. Sports wagering is identified as a major driver of record revenue for the gaming industry.