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College Athletics and the Risks of Sports Betting 

Published: March 20, 2023

With both March Madness and Problem Gambling Awareness Month in full swing, problem gambling-related issues are receiving extra attention. One such area is a recent development brought on by the legalization of sports betting in Ohio: a rise in the number of college or high school athletes who could be at risk for a problem with gambling via sports betting. 

Recent studies on sports betting have shown that engaging in sports betting can put some people at risk of developing a problem with gambling, and that the largest group of people who are at risk are young men.

According to a recent survey of American adults published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, engagement with sports betting, e-sports wagering, or daily fantasy play were each associated with moderate or high risk levels of problem gambling. In the same study, the group associated with a greater likelihood of participating in those types of play were high-income young males. 

Many of these men also participate in or are fans of sports, especially at the high school or college level, which can result in them being exposed to betting when they are still young. According to the NCAA’s demographic database, 56 percent of college student-athletes are men. And with a disproportionate number of men having participated in or enjoyed sports at some point in their lives, many are led to believe the myth that their sports experience translates into “sure thing” wins when they bet.

That’s why problem gambling advocates and prevention professionals have recently launched efforts to educate all athletes on the risks that can arise from sports betting, with a particular emphasis on male athletes and college athletics. In 2022, the NCAA and EPIC Risk Management launched an effort to hold face-to-face sports betting risk education sessions with student athletes in 46 colleges across the U.S. And in 2021, the National Council on Problem Gambling released a report outlining ways that colleges can mitigate problem gambling risk among their students. 

Here in Ohio, you can get involved in educating the college students and athletes in your life about the potential risk of problem gambling from sports betting by using the Before You Bet resources below:

  • Pause Before You Play: This sub-campaign was created to connect with sports fans and encourages anyone who might bet on sports to take a pause before they play to set limits, recognize the risks, and know when to stop. In addition to offering a web page that offers useful information on the risks of sports betting, helpful fliers, and an engaging PSA are available for you to share in your community. 
  • College Student Toolkit: With sports betting now arriving on college campuses in Ohio through apps and advertising, educating college students on responsible play and the risks is growing in importance. This toolkit contains resources built to do that by speaking to students where they are, including print ads, posters, and digital ads. Assets can even be customized with your organization’s logo upon request.

And if you are a college student or athlete concerned about your sports betting habits, do not hesitate to call Ohio’s Problem Gambling Helpline. Calls are answered 24/7 by trained and understanding specialists who can offer free and confidential support. Call 1-800-589-9966 or text 4HOPE to 741741 now. 

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