Athletes and Problem Gambling

| March 8, 2013

Consider the following research about college athletes:

  • Seventy-two percent of student athletes have gambled at least once since entering college; forty-five percent of male athletes gamble on sports (Cross & Vollano, 1999)
  • One in 20 male student athletes admitted providing inside information for gambling purposes, bet on a game in which they participated, or accepted money for performing poorly in a game (Cross & Vollano, 1999)
  • College athletes are more likely to gamble than non‐athletes (NCAA, 2004), and about twice as likely to be problem gamblers (Rocket, Beason & Gilbert, 2002)

Dangers of Student Athlete Betting

  • Athletic and academic failure
  • Crime
  • Relationship problems
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Debt
  • Suicide

NCAA Gambling Rules for Student Athletes

  • “You may not place any bet of any sort on any college or professional sports event.”
  • “You may not give information to anyone who does place bets on college or professional sports.”

Signs of a Problem Sports Gambler

  • Excessive use of Internet and/or phone calls to 800- or 900- numbers
  • Obsession with point spreads
  • Unusual interest in obscure games
  • Association with other sports bettors
  • Shifting allegiances for/against same team on different days
  • Frequently hitting up friends or family for loans
  • Defensive when questioned about gambling behavior
  • Debts, unpaid bills, financial troubles
  • After losing, eager to bet again to get even or ahead

Identifying the Problem and Getting Help

  • Provide screening for athletes as part of a routine annual physical
  • As a primary, inexpensive measure, could use Lie/Bet questions (Johnson, Hamer, Nora, Tan, Eistenstein, & Englehart, 1988) to rule out problem gambling behaviors:
    • Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money?
    • Have you ever had to lie to people important to you about how much you gambled?
    • If positive response to one or both questions, refer to 1.877.MY.LIMIT 24-hour Help Line
  • Add rules in the student conduct codes for gambling activities on campus
  • Develop a comprehensive Code of Conduct for athletes that specify standards for activities such as gambling
  • Provide athletes with awareness education, including available help resources for gambling and other disorders

Help is available.

In Oregon, help is available for problem gamblers AND their loved ones.  In Lane County, gambling treatment services are available through the emergence Gambling Treatment Program and Centro Latino Americano (541-687-2667 / full Spanish bilingual) programs. Or call the statewide 24-hour helpline, 1877-MY-LIMIT for free and confidential help.

Category: Problem Gambling

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