Colleges face gambling addiction among students as sports betting spreads

Jason Osborne:

Three out of four college students have gambled in the past year, whether legally or illegally, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.

An estimated 2% to 3% of U.S. adults have a gambling problem. The portion of college students with a problem, however, is potentially twice that number – up to 6%.

As an educational psychologist who follows gambling in America, I foresee the potential for gambling on campus to become an even bigger problem. Sports betting continues to expand, including on college campuses, since a 2018 Supreme Court ruling allowing states to make it legal.

As a faculty fellow at an institute that promotes responsible gaming, I know that colleges can take steps to curtail problem gambling among students. It is all the more urgent given that adolescents in general, including college students, are often uniquely susceptible to gambling problems, both because of their exposure to video games – which often have hallmarks of gambling behavior – and the stress and anxiety of college life, which can lead to using gambling as a coping strategy.