The NCAA today released survey results that show many young adults are wagering on sports, often despite age or geographic restrictions on legal sports betting. NCAA President Charlie Baker commissioned the survey weeks after taking over to establish a new baseline of sports betting activity, given the proliferation of online betting platforms and advertising consumed by young people.
"We needed a new baseline so we can better understand what student-athletes are experiencing on their campuses and among their peers so we can best help them deal with the potentially disruptive dynamic of legal sports betting," Baker said. "Sports betting has increased interest in sports of all kinds, including college sports, which is great for our fans, but the NCAA and everyone from coaches to athletics department staff and college presidents must better understand what impact sports betting may have on student-athletes."
The survey queried 3,527 18- to 22-year-olds to better understand the prevalence of various sports wagering behaviors, as well as how attitudes toward wagering are being impacted by external forces, such as advertising. Opinion Diagnostics conducted the survey by using a national online panel that mirrored the total population of that age group and included both college students and young adults not attending college. Current or former NCAA athletes may have been in the pool of respondents but not in sufficient numbers to examine their data separately. The NCAA will conduct a student-athlete-only survey in the coming months.
Overall, the present survey found that sports wagering is pervasive among 18- to 22-year-olds, with 58 percent having engaged in at least one sports betting activity.
Sports wagering activity is widespread on college campuses — 67 percent of students living on campus are bettors and tend to bet at a higher frequency. 41 percent of college students who bet on sports have placed a bet on their school's teams and 35% have used a student bookmaker.
Advertisements have a major influence on betting activity: 63 percent of on-campus students recall seeing betting ads. This is a higher rate than that found in the general population or those that commute/virtually attend college, and 58 percent of those students indicate they are more likely to bet after seeing the ads.
Problem gambling shows up in this population, with 16 percent having engaged in at least one risky behavior and 6 percent reporting that they have previously lost more than $500 on sports betting in a single day. 70 percent of these risky gamblers believe consistent sports gambling will increase their monetary earnings.
This population places bets in a variety of ways, but the accessibility of mobile sports betting has made that the preferred choice, with 28 percent choosing the mobile app method for their wagering. Live in-game betting is the most popular type of bet for those that use betting apps or visit in-person sportsbooks, surpassing more traditional forms of sports betting like money line or over/under.
State legality and age restrictions do not pose much difficulty, as areas where betting is legal versus those where it is illegal have nearly the same rate of engagement. Betting is pervasive across the country: the Northeast has the largest portions of bettors with 61 percent, while the West has the lowest, with 54 percent.
The NCAA continues to work with industry leaders, mental health experts, law enforcement and regulators, actively monitoring, researching and analyzing this landscape to devise effective ways to protect student-athlete well-being and minimize gambling harm.
"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, 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."
Click here to read key findings from the survey and to learn more about the survey methodology.
Later this fall, the NCAA will conduct a national survey of student-athlete sports wagering attitudes and behaviors that has been undertaken every four years since 2003-04.