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Study: 58% of college students in the US have engaged in sports betting activity

NCAA survey reveals that 18-to-22-year-olds are more likely to bet at a higher frequency.

25 May 2023 Ed Dixon

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  • Advertisements have a major influence on betting activity among young people
  • 16% have engaged in risky betting behavior
  • Mobile is preferred choice of platform for wagering

Sports wagering in the US is proving increasingly popular among younger people, with 58 per cent of 18-to-22-year-olds having engaged in at least one sports betting activity, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) survey.

The survey from the US college sports body, which involved 3,527 18-to-22-year-olds and was conducted by Opinion Diagnostics, found that sports wagering is widespread on college campuses. It noted that 67 per cent of students living on campus are bettors and tend to bet at a higher frequency.

The survey added that college students who bet on sports have placed a bet on their school’s teams and 35 per cent have used a student bookmaker. 

The NCAA also found that advertisements have a major influence on betting activity. Notably, 63 per cent of on-campus students recalled seeing betting ads, which the survey stated was a higher rate than that found in the general population or those that commute or virtually attend college. In addition, 58 per cent of those students indicated they would be more likely to bet after seeing ads.

When it came to problem gambling, 16 of respondents had engaged in at least one risky behavior and six per cent reported that they had previously lost more than US$500 on sports betting in a single day. Furthermore, 70 per cent of these risky gamblers believe consistent sports gambling will increase their monetary earnings. 

In terms of 18-to-22-year-olds’ betting habits, mobile wagering was cited as the preferred choice, with 28 per cent choosing apps. Live in-game betting was found to be the most popular type of bet for those that use betting apps or visit in-person sportsbooks, surpassing more traditional forms of sports wagering.

The northeast of the US has the largest portions of bettors with 61 per cent, while the west has the lowest with 54 per cent, highlighting that wagering is pervasive across the country.

According to the NCAA, state legality and age restrictions do not pose much of a barrier, as areas where betting is legal versus those where it is illegal have nearly the same rate of engagement.

“We have built strong relationships with industry experts in this space, and we are in constant communication about various issues, everything ranging from integrity monitoring to mental health resources,” said Clint Hangebrauck, the NCAA’s managing director of enterprise risk management.

“The world of sports wagering is vast and complex. The NCAA is diligently gathering data, reviewing processes and procedures and creating initiatives to educate student-athletes and protect the integrity of college athletics.”

The NCAA survey arrives after the American Gaming Association (AGA) revealed in February that sportsbook revenue in the US pulled in a record US$7.5 billion in 2022, up 75 per cent on 2021. Flutter, which owns the FanDuel brand, forecasts that the total addressable US betting market will be worth more than US$40 billion by 2030.

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