Playing The Odds: College Students Are Facing A Sports Betting Epidemic

The stakes are higher than ever

This is one of the best times of the year to be a sports fan—the Super Bowl is just around the corner, baseball season is about to start back up, the NBA is in full swing, and March Madness is a month away. And while watching all of the excitement, you’ll no doubt see an ad for a sports betting company. Whether this is in-person or virtual varies, but the rise of sports gambling has been a rapid one.

Worse still, these companies are targeting college students now more than ever. In fact, 12% of the commercials seen during the games are targeted specifically to college students. And when students are struggling to make ends meet now more than ever, sports gambling seems like a viable way to earn extra income—but at what cost?

Staggering Statistics

While it might not seem like a major problem within the college community, the truth is pretty shocking. According to a survey done by the NCAA, 58% of 18- to 22-year-olds actively engage in sports betting. And within the last year, 3 in 4 college students have sports gambled at some point. And now colleges are worried about the potential impact.

TIME Magazine took it a step further by citing that 1 in 10 college students is a pathological gambler. Thanks to sports wagering companies offering matching deposit promotions and easy access to apps, a whopping 16% of students are engaging in risky sports betting behavior.

In general, 60-80% of people who bet on sports lose money. What’s worse, the average sports gambler loses anywhere from $500 to a whopping $2,000 per year. The house has an edge on every bet you place, and people often “chase their losses” to try and recoup the money they’ve already lost to break even.

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More Harm Than Good?

Sports gambling is currently legal in 38 states with 2 more expected to come on board later this year. However, certain websites and apps are implementing coins or tokens (available for purchase, of course) to subvert the illegality of monetary sports gambling in the 12 states that haven’t legalized it yet.

The easiest entry for most students is through fantasy football, which is one of the biggest ways to legally gamble across the country. Plus, college students as an easy way to make money and potentially don’t even see it as gambling thanks to statistics and research to justify their bets on certain players or teams.

Negative Outcomes

College students are under immense pressure, financial and otherwise. Thus, sports gambling seems like an easy to way earn extra cash. Getting that 10-day parlay might seem like a sure thing, when it reality it’s just as risky as other forms of gambling.

In a recent study by Villanova, gambling directly coincides with declining grades throughout the school year. Plus, it also produces negative physical, social, and psychological effects.

Getting Help

That’s not to say all sports gambling is a problem. Throwing $10 bucks into a betting app for fun or having a monthly wager likely isn’t going to cause you any issues. However, if you find yourself compulsively gambling week after week (and the sum you’re putting up is growing), it might be time for a change.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, call The National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER, 24 hours a day.