Sports Betting in College: High-Risk, What Reward?

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Especially in the midst of March Madness, sports betting is seen all around campus. Everyone is betting on who will win each game, adding up to a lot of money. These apps have always been extremely popular in American universities, even before its legalization. Students tend to use it as a way to “fit in” as well as to potentially win some money. However, sports betting can be dangerous for students, especially with a “high-risk” mentality. How did this phenomenon come to take over universities and how is it affecting students?

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How Did it Begin?

A 2018 Supreme Court decision allowed legal sports betting in the United States, leading 33 states and D.C. to legalize it. Because apps were created for the purpose of sports betting soon after, they became extremely popular and accessible. However, according to Newsweek, the age group most involved in sports betting are those in their twenties. Because twenties-somethings typically are more inclined to take risks, sports betting apps target them.

However, many of these people ultimately develop gambling problems. Because an early twenties brain isn’t fully developed, it can be dangerous for them to get into sports betting so young and develop an addiction. Since sports betting’s legalization, the use of gambling hotlines has increased significantly in many states.

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Underaged Gambling

Even before turning 21, students find ways to cheat the system. Many turn to using others’ social security numbers, and sometimes without the other person’s knowledge. Often times underaged sports bettors will use another family member’s social security in order to participate in sports betting. This decision, though, can be dangerous and could get the other person into trouble.

Moreover, some universities show advertisements for sports betting apps at college games. While these companies do not claim to be marketing toward the under-21 crowd, these ads are still able to catch the eyes of 18 to 20-year-olds and cause them to download whatever app is being shown off. Even those over 21 students are still very young and highly susceptible to taking risks, which is why these companies take advantage of this age group.

“From 2007 to 2014, researchers found that 75% to 80% of college students had gambled in the past year,” an AP article says. This study was even before sports betting was legalized. College students tend to want to get involved with what their peers are doing, which causes freshmen to feel included when they begin sports betting as soon as they get to college. However, some can get addicted and end up losing a lot of money, and even some of their parents’ money if they are using their credit cards. These apps can send young adults down a spiral into debt.

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Betting In Happy Valley

Sports betters can be found all around campus, whether they are in the dorms or off campus. This crowd, who are mostly male, feels connected to each other through this toxic form. With Penn State being such a big football school, students are more inclined to participate in sports betting because of their passion for football.

Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, with your opinion on sports betting in college and at Penn State!

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