Sports Betting Explosion Could Be Causing a Rise in Problem Gambling Amongst College Students

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Problem gambling is increasing amongst college students, according to an article from Time Magazine.

An article titled "An Explosion in Sports Betting Is Driving Gambling Addiction Among College Students", cited the legalization of sports betting and the booming popularity of the industry as one of the main growing addiction issues for college students.

“We used to think the problem gambler was a little old lady at the slot machine,” Diana Goode, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, told Time. “Now, it's the 20-something male betting on sports. That is the new demographic of the problem gambler. And I would say 40% of our calls are from that demographic or about that demographic. Because it's not just these kids (referring to 20-something-year-olds) that are calling, it's their parents.”

According to a University of Buffalo study cited in the article, one in 10 college students is a pathological gambler, which is far double the 5% that is estimated for the population of the United States.

In a different survey conducted by the NCAA, nearly 60% of young adults aged 18-22 have gambled on sports, but only 4% wager on sports every day.

Sports gambling isn't the only form of gambling is on the rise among college students. Students are also trading stocks, cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange at a much higher rate.

Colleges are starting to catch up to the explosion of sports betting and are implementing programs to help addicts. And it's working.

“Our treatment data show that a significant majority stop gambling or reduce their gambling, and improve their quality of life,” Dr. Timothy Fong, from UCLA, told Time. “Left without treatment, we know people die. People kill themselves, people go bankrupt.”

Fong acknowledged that most gamblers are able to bet within their limits and a ban would just encourage a black market. But the issues will remain.

"It provides entertainment and generates economic activity," the article noted. "Done responsibly, it can even help young people explore their appetite for risk, much as going to a horror movie can help them explore fear. But with online sports betting, the equation is out of kilter, and the societal damage is quickly outweighing any benefits."

Only two states, Wyoming and West Virginia, allow 18-20-year-olds to place legal sports bets, All other states are 21+.

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