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New NCAA Study Shows Increase in Underage Sports Betting 

Published: July 17, 2023

With sports betting being legal in Ohio and in over 30 other states, it’s also becoming more popular for young adults – despite many being under the legal age to gamble. That’s according to a new study from the NCAA, which set out to better understand sports betting behaviors for student-athletes and college students.

The national survey of 18- to 22-year-olds found that 58% of students placed at least one bet this year, with many living in states where the legal betting age is 21 or prohibited altogether. The study also found that nearly 70% of college students living on campus are bettors and that among college-aged sports bettors, a little over 40% have placed wagers on their own school’s team.

Other highlights from the study include: 

  • The majority of underage gamblers typically bet between $1 and $50 and lose between $10 and $300 a day.
  • The losses are even more significant for African American bettors, some of whom reported losing more than $500 in a single day.
  • Some college students have engaged other student bookies to place bets on their behalf. 

“The NCAA’s findings further demonstrate the continued pervasiveness of illegal sports betting and the problems associated with it,” Casey Clark, the gaming association’s senior vice president, told CBS News

“Offshore sportsbooks, faux fantasy/sweepstakes companies, and corner bookies continue to prey on vulnerable populations, offering ways to gamble on sports to those who shouldn’t,” Clark said. “Illegal operators do not care about age or identity verification, consumer protections or encouraging responsible gaming — all hallmarks of the regulated industry.”

To make matters even more complex, sports betting is everywhere students look. Commercials from companies like BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel regularly feature stars like Kevin Hart and Patton Oswalt as they promote the activity. Fifty-six percent [KM1] of survey respondents mentioned seeing advertisements encouraging them to bet. 

While it’s true that this is just one study, problem gambling continues to be a serious issue among young adults everywhere. The rates among teens are two to three times that of adults. And of U.S. residents ages 14-21, 2.1% struggle with problem gambling and another 6.5% are at risk. 

Whether they’re on a college campus or still at home, you can still make a difference and help prevent problem gambling. Talking to them about the risks of gambling, recognizing the warning signs, and knowing when to get help can make a big difference. Head to where you can learn more about the dangers of youth gambling and access guides for youth, caretakers, and educators to help start a conversation.

And if you’re a staff or faculty member looking to promote a responsible gambling message throughout your campus Before You Bet offers a college student toolkit containing posters, handouts, and more that can be co-branded for your university.

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