Responsible Gaming: NCAA Survey Indicates Betting Risks for Young Adults, Highlights Need for Transparency

Responsible Gaming: NCAA Survey Indicates Betting Risks for Young Adults, Highlights Need for Transparency article feature image

Mitchell Layton/Getty. Pictured: NCAA logo.

On Wednesday, the NCAA released a survey regarding sports wagering behaviors in young adults. The survey, conducted from April 18-25, tackled a number of subjects, ranging from frequency of wagering to opinions on the likelihood of succeeding when betting on sports.

To read a more news-based perspective on the survey, you can refer to this SportsHandle article or this Action Network article. However, this piece will focus more significantly on what this survey tells us from a responsible gaming perspective.

It's hard to define responsible gaming with an exact set of terms, but on a general level, it's gambling that occurs in situations where the potential for gambling-related harm is minimized and people make informed decisions about their participation in gaming.

Here are some takeaways from the NCAA's survey as they pertain to responsible gaming.

NCAA Survey Responsible Gaming Takeaways

Access to Sports Betting is Present For Everyone

The biggest takeaway from this survey is not a surprising one: Young adults have access to sports betting whether or not they are of legal age and whether or not they live in a state where legal sports betting is present.

Offshore or local sportsbooks have provided access to Americans for a significant period of time — long before PASPA was overturned in 2018 — and that remains the case.

Much like the following takeaways that I will describe, the response to this presence of betting must mean that a commitment to transparency is present from those in the industry if it is to grow in a positive way.

Even if those involved want sports betting to be an activity that is exclusive to 21-year-olds and above, that is not realistic. As such, making young adults aware of the risks and dangers associated with gambling is critical.

Lack of Informed & Educated Decision-Making is Significant

The messaging that exists in sports betting advertisements across television and online does not outwardly highlight these risks. Their goal is largely to frame sports betting in a positive light.

While sports betting can be a fun recreational activity for a majority of individuals, there's also a significant presence of problem gambling behaviors in a large portion of sports bettors as well.

This is indicated in the survey, as the NCAA found that 80% of bettors classified as having a higher risk say that betting ads made them more likely to gamble.

Considering the wide reach that these advertisements have, the long-term success of the gambling industry will be dependent on providing fair information about sports betting. To me, long-term success isn't defined as profit — that is all but assured — but rather requires a world where those involved look back and don't see bettors who weren't informed and prepared with information regarding responsible gaming.

One of the key structures behind these advertisements is the false reality of winning. In the NCAA's survey, 36.7% of the individuals agreed with the statement, "If I were to frequently engage in sports betting activities, I could consistently make a lot of money.” Only 32.1% of the respondents outright disagreed with the statement.

This presents one of the biggest problems that can lead to issues with problem gambling and associated behaviors. The reality of sports betting is that a significant majority of those who partake will lose money in the long term.

One of the crucial factors for individuals who enjoy gambling and have a healthy relationship with the activity rests in this fact. It allows bettors to be far more reasonable and stable with their expectations and emotions in relation to gambling.

It's clear that that's not the current reality for a significant percentage of young adults participating in sports betting.

In-Game Betting is Rapidly Growing

When you think of traditional sports betting, terms like point spread, over/under and parlay may come to mind, but for a majority of respondents, 60.8% stated that they had placed an in-game wager more than any other type of listed wager.

In-game wagering not only offers the consistent opportunity to quickly bet more — a problem gaming hazard — but it also presents the toughest kind of bet for integrity services to monitor, as Chris Vannini highlights.

Most interesting part of NCAA survey to me is how big in-game betting has become.

That’s the toughest kind of bet for integrity services to monitor and why real-time data is important.

— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) May 24, 2023

Maintaining the integrity of sporting events is also crucial for the long-term success of sports betting. The good news is that instances have recently occurred that highlight the strong resources attached to catching these types of behaviors, but the pressure placed on these services is only getting greater.

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