The Extent and Nature of Gambling Among College Student Athletes


o Table of Contents
o Executive Summary
o Introduction
o Review of the Literature
o Methodology
o Results
o Discussion
o Conclusion
o Bibliography
o Biography
o Acknowledgements
o Contact Information
o Purchase Copy

I. General Gambling Activities

Student athletes were asked to respond "yes" or "no" to the following question about eleven different gambling activities. "Since you started attending a college or university, have you participated in any of the following activities?" The variables were:

  1. Going to a casino
  2. Playing slot, poker, or other gambling machines
  3. Playing cards for money
  4. Playing dice (e.g. craps, over under, etc.) for money
  5. Betting on sports with a friend, bookie, or using a parlay card
  6. Betting in a pool related to the NCAA Basketball Tournament or the Super Bowl
  7. Participating in a game of skill (e.g. golf, bowling) for money
  8. Participating in lotteries or numbers games
  9. Betting on horses, dogs, or other animals in race track settings
  10. Playing bingo
  11. Gambling via the internet or World Wide Web

Table 2 describes the extent to which student athletes reported gambling on the eleven activities identified above. There were significant differences between male and female student athletes on seven of the eleven and the composite variable. Nearly 72% of all student athletes and 80% of male student athletes have gambled in some manner while attending college. Almost 60% of female student athletes have gambled in some manner while attending college.


Table 2

Student Athlete Gambling Activities While Attending College


Percentage Responding "Yes"

Type of Gambling All (n=758) Male (n=460) Female (n=298)
% n % n % n
Casino* 45.4 344 48.5 223 40.6 121
Slot or other gambling machines 40.4 306 42.8 197 36.6 109
Play cards for money* 29.4 223 39.1 180 14.4  43
Bet on sports* 28.4 215 37.0 170 15.1  45
Lottery or numbers 26.4 200 27.8 128 24.2  72
Games of skill* 25.6 194 37.0 170 8.1 24
NCAA basketball tournament or Super Bowl pool* 22.6 171 30.0 138 11.1 33
Dice games* 14.2 108 18.5 85 7.7  23
Bet on horses or other animals* 11.1 84 13.5 62 7.4 22
Bingo 8.8 67 8.0 37 10.1 30
World Wide Web 0.9 7 0.9 4 1.0 3
All variables combined into a single variable indicating percentage who have gambled on any of these activities while in college.* 71.8 544 80.0 368 59.1  176

* = Significant differences between male and female student athletes determined through ANOVA (p < .05)

Across the eleven variables, casino gambling was the most common form of gambling for student athletes, with over 45% of student athletes visiting a casino since attending college. In addition, there was a significant difference between male casino attendance and female casino attendance, with 48.5% of all male respondents visiting a casino compared to 40.6% of their female peers. Other forms of "casino type" gambling such as slot machines (40.4%) and card playing for money (29.4%) were also popular.


Financial involvement in gambling

The student athletes in the sample indicated a wide range of responses when asked about the largest amount of money they spent on gambling. Table 3 shows their responses.


Table 3

Largest Amount Wagered by Student Athletes While Attending College


Percentage of Student AthletesFemale (n=298)

Largest Amount Wagered All (n=758) Male (n=460) Female (n=298)
% n % n % n
Nothing 28.8 219 20.7 95 41.7 124
$10 or less 32.5 246 34.3 158 29.5 88
$11 $50 23.1 175 25.0 115 20.1 60
$51 $100 8.0 61 10.0 46 5.0 15
$101 $500 6.5 49 8.5 39 3.4 10
More than $500 1.1 8 1.5 7 0.3 1


For just over 60% of all student athletes who gamble, their largest wager was $10 or less. In addition, among those student athletes who indicated that they gamble, over 84% indicated they wagered $50 or less.


Gambling debt

Most student athlete gambling behavior appeared to be self-financed. In fact, 89.3% of student athletes indicated that they had never borrowed money to pay for gambling. Student athletes used a wide variety of methods when they did borrow money to pay for gambling activities. Loans from friends or teammates (n= 29), loans from parents or relatives (n= 20), personal credit cards (n= 20) and scholarship checks (n= 15) were the most common responses. In addition, a few student athletes acknowledged borrowing money from student loans (n=7), maintaining a line of credit with a bookie or casino (n = 5), passing bad checks (n = 3), and borrowing money from coaches (n = 2). While student athletes could have used more than one of these methods to borrow money, in most cases, they only used one or two of the potential funding sources listed.

Student athletes did not appear to maintain high levels of gambling-related debt. Ninety-four percent of the student athletes did not currently owe any money related to gambling. Of the remaining student athletes, 4.9% were in debt for $100 or less due to gambling-related reasons. The remaining 1.1% of student athletes (n = 8) had debt between $101 and $6000.


Class, practice and competition absences

Student athletes were asked to indicate if they ever missed class, practice, or competition due to gambling-related reasons. Eighteen student athletes in the sample indicated they had missed class due to gambling related reasons. Only two individuals indicated missing practice or competition.


Changes in gambling activities

Student athletes who admitted to gambling in any manner since attending college were asked to indicate whether they were gambling "less," "about the same," or "more" than they were 12 months ago. Over 37% of the student athletes indicated that they are gambling "less" now than they did 12 months ago, 55.6% indicated that they were gambling "about the same amount," and 7.0% stated they are gambling "more" than they did 12 months ago.


I) General Gambling Activities
II) Sports Related Gambling
III) Gambling with Bookmakers and Other Organized Gambling Activities



Table of Contents | Executive Summary | Introduction | Review of the Literature | Methodology | Results
Discussion | Conclusion | Bibliography | Biography | Acknowledgements | Contact Information