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Problem Betting Among College Students Keeps Trending Upward – Here’s How Colleges Can Help

Published: January 8, 2024

There’s no shortage of sports betting opportunities throughout the academic calendar in Ohio: The College Football National Championship is today, March Madness is right around the corner, and it starts all over again in the fall. All of these college sporting events are opportunities for students to participate in sports betting.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Council on Problem Gambling, three out of four college students have gambled in the past year. Whether from gambling ads on TikTok or other social platforms – which 72 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds have seen – or from exposure to video games, more college students than ever are engaging in gambling activities. 

And with that rise in engagement, the risk of those students developing a problem with betting can increase. Nationwide, the rate of problem gambling among college students is six percent – more than double the general population.

While colleges and universities can’t control what students see online or do in video games, they can make efforts to curb betting on their campuses. According to the International Center for Responsible Gaming, institutions can do the following to address gambling risks to students:

  • Create clear policies on gambling and sports betting that align with alcohol and drug policies. Establish effective policies that support student wellness by prohibiting legal and illegal gambling, underage alcohol consumption, and drug use at any school sporting events. 
  • Promote mental health services, particularly when it comes to addiction. Making students aware that, like other kinds of addiction, problem gambling is a diagnosable and treatable condition can help them access the help they need sooner.   
  • Hire campus counselors who are familiar with problem gambling. When hiring mental health providers, make sure that they have the proper training and experience to address problem gambling and ability to support students who might be struggling. Providers should also be aware that problem gambling often presents itself with co-morbidities – like depression or alcohol or drug misuse – which might require a well-rounded treatment approach.  
  • Understand your students better with campus-wide surveys. Conducting surveys can give university leaders a better understanding of student attitudes toward gambling and track changes in beliefs and behaviors to influence future policies and services.

For administrators looking for more information and resources to address problem gambling on college campuses, there’s the Pause Before You Play College Student Toolkit. It includes customizable and co-brandable assets like educational handouts, posters, digital ads, social media posts, and more. 

And if you’re a student struggling with gambling or you know one who is, make the call to 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. 

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