Trends in NCAA Student-Athlete Gambling Behaviors and Attitudes

Executive Summary November 2017 Findings:

  • Overall rates of gambling among NCAA men have decreased.  Fifty-five percent of men in the 2016 study reported gambling for money within the past year, compared to 57% of respondents in the 2012 study and 66% in 2008.  As in the general population (college-aged and otherwise), women engage in nearly all gambling activities at much lower rates than men.  Over the 12-year period studied, participation in most gambling activities decreased among all student-athletes despite the expansion of land-based and online gambling opportunities during this time.
  • However, in contrast to activities such as poker or online casino games, sports wagering remains popular among student-athletes.  In 2016, 24% of men reported violating NCAA bylaws within the previous year by wagering on sports for money (9% reported wagering on sports once per month or more).  These rates are just slightly lower those seen in the 2008 and 2012 surveys.  About 5% of current NCAA women reported wagering on sports in the past year.
  • Most of the gambling and sports wagering behaviors of student-athletes involve low stakes.  Among student-athletes who have ever gambled for money, the largest reported one-day loss is less than $10 for nearly one-third of men and more than one-half of women.  Only 35% of men and 13% of women gamblers have ever lost more than $50 in a day.  Of the student-athletes who have ever wagered on sports, only 21% of men and 5% of women reported losing more than $50 in a day.  Most fantasy sports and basketball pool participation among student-athletes involves similarly low amounts.
  • That said, gambling and sports wagering can lead to significant well-being issues for some student-athletes.  Just under 2% of men participating in the 2016 survey (along with a smaller percentage of women) met standard diagnostic criteria for problem gambling.  Four percent of men who had gambled in the past year reported one-day gambling losses of $500 or more.  Student-athlete gambling debts are a well-being concern, but also a worry for potential vulnerability to outside gambling influences.

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