Sports Betting Boom Leads to Increased Gambling Addiction in College Students
Today, thanks to technology and progress, almost anyone can at any time have access to various real money online casino sites and betting companies. It's convenient and can serve as good entertainment and a way to pass time, but there are also some dangers here.
A concerning trend has emerged in U.S. college campuses, where a surge in sports betting has led to an increase in gambling addiction among students. This trend is predominantly observed in mobile sports betting, often luring students with the allure of "free" bets and seemingly easy wins. These apps entice students to spend their financial aid, lie to their families, and neglect their studies. Students from lower-income backgrounds are especially susceptible, lacking the financial buffer to recover from losses.
Gambling addiction, recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, is often correlated with other forms of addiction, anxiety, depression, and an increased risk of suicide. The rapid legalization and aggressive promotion of gambling, akin to the opioid crisis, is raising serious concerns among experts. A University of Buffalo meta-analysis indicates that one in ten college students is a pathological gambler, a rate much higher than the general U.S. population. Such expansion of sports betting is described as the most significant in U.S. history.
Diana Goode, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, notes a worrying pattern, with a doubling of hotline calls since 2019 and gamblers getting younger. "Now, it's the 20-something male betting on sports. That is the new demographic of the problem gambler," says Goode.
Dr. Timothy Fong believes that completely prohibiting online gambling would lead to unintended consequences, such as the growth of an underground market. He points out that the majority of gamblers are not addicts and engage in betting responsibly, staying within their financial boundaries. Additionally, Fong highlights the positive aspects of gambling, including its role as a source of entertainment and its contribution to economic activity.