The WAGER, Vol. 3(43) – Gambling on campus

The NCAA football season is well underway and basketball will begin in a matter of weeks. And, if past years provide any indication, collegiate betting continues. While much media coverage has been focused in recent years on large-scale betting rings, less attention has been given to the daily gambling activities in which college students participate. Two recent studies contribute to this discourse by shedding light on the gambling behaviors of enrolled students. The first employed a sample of 521 students at a community college in Canada. Because the student body included a significant proportion of non-traditional students, the demographics of the sample vary considerably from what we would expect at a college campus. The mean age was 28, 44 percent were married, 10% were separated or divorced, and 46% were single. Fifty-nine percent of the sample was female [1].

The second study drew its sample of 544 students at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) from introductory psychology classes [2]. The sample was divided almost equally between males and females, with a mean age of 22. The results from this study should be interpreted with the knowledge that sports betting is legal in Nevada for persons 21 years of age or older. The most salient results from each study are presented in the tables below. The high prevalence of participation in gaming might recommend closer scrutiny in the future. College students are a unique and challenging population to study. They enjoy the same legal rights and privileges of adults, yet they live in a cultural milieu that separates them from the general adult population. Often carrying student loans, they may be particularly vulnerable to indebtedness. Furthermore, they are constantly in close proximity to sporting events which provide numerous opportunities for wagering. Campus health is a growing field; perhaps monitoring for disordered gambling should be a part of that growth.


  1. Adebayo, B. (1998). Luck of the dice: Gambling attitudes of a sample of community college students. College Student Journal, 32(2), 255-257.
  2. Oster, S.L. & Knapp, T.J. (1998). Sports betting by college students: Who bets and how often? College Student Journal, 32(2), 289-292.