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Gambling Trends Among College Students

Gambling is a popular pastime in many countries all over the world. However, popularity can widely differ based on the age demographic you are referring to. And one of the demographics casinos and sports books are most curious about right now, is the popularity of gambling among college students.

Why Do They Care About College Students?

Well, frankly, the kids who are in college today are the gamblers of tomorrow. Not only that, but study after study has shown that kids and teenagers are much more impressionable and likely to switch to a new brand of a product before their brains are fully formed and their preferences are ingrained. Once they are an adult, they are usually already committed to a specific company or brand. And teenagers and young adults have an impulse control which hasn’t yet fully formed, making them more likely to gamble, and continue gambling even after a loss. So, casinos and other betting establishments need to hook college students on gambling and do it while they are young in order to create the lifelong customers they desire. Also, those currently in the teenage demographic are currently much more likely to adapt to new technologies or ideas presented by the casinos and share it with their friends via social media.

How Do They Do It?

Well in some states, it is illegal for casinos to advertise on TV. And the rules in the states where they can advertise on TV,  are very strict. Casinos have to depict their advertisements without any misleading content, which can be difficult when presenting the odds of winning in a place like a casino. The governments have imposed these rules to try and keep young children from being exposed to gambling at too young of an age and keep casinos from making money off of deception. But this rule doesn’t apply everywhere. And even in the places that is does apply, many regulators have forgotten that TV is no longer the preference of the younger generation, but the casinos know, and this is why most of their advertising is now done through social media such as Facebook and Instagram.

If you are a user of either of these platforms, it’s likely you’ve seen at least one ad for a casino in the last year. You may not have even realized that it was for a casino, as many of these ads feature hot women, nice cars, and other indications of the “high” life without specifically depicting gambling itself (although some do feature dice rolls or slot machines). And even if you haven’t seen a specific ad, you’ve likely seen a filter or other frame one of your friends used in a picture or video while they were visiting a casino. And although this isn’t direct advertising, it still makes the casino money because it does gain them customers and thus it is considered a form of advertising. In fact, most casinos now have promotional models whose sole job is too look good in pictures and ads used by the casino in online advertising.

Does It Work?

Of course, the most important question is, does it work? Yes, it does, exceedingly so. The NCPG (The National Center for Problem Gambling) found that in the past year, 75% of college students have gambled. If you look at this statistic again, you’re probably wondering how this is possible, and this is because a number of college student engage in illegal gambling. Now this doesn’t mean they are walking into a casino and gambling underage, rather, the largest market for college kids when it comes to gambling is actually sports betting. And because this can be done remotely, or through friends, it makes it very easy for someone underage to gamble in this manner. It also is very easy for older college kids to agree to buy their underage friends other forms of gambling like scratch off’s and lottery tickets.

According to recent statistics, 67% of all college students bet on sports, 41% choose to play the lottery on a regular basis, and 38% engage in card games. In this same study, it was found that 30% of male college athletes bet on sports, and that 66% of these athletes actually started this practice prior to college. Which only serves to reinforce the casinos and sports books in their tactics at advertising to teens. 

One of the reasons advertising to college kids works so well is because they are at an age where “keeping up with the Jonses'” or better known as their friends, is very important. College is also the age where most credit card companies start advertising to young adults, and thus a number of these college age kids now have access to additional money which they didn’t have access to before. This way they can actually keep up with their friends financially, even if they have no money to spend. College kids also tend to have more free time than the average adult. They don’t normally have a full-time job, nor a spouse or kids, and this makes jetting off for a weekend in Vegas much more ideal.

Does This Mean College Students Have Gambling Problems?

Surprisingly, despite how widespread it seems gambling is among college students, most actually do gamble responsibly. Surprisingly, according to the same study mentioned above, only about 6% of college students have a gambling problem where it interferes with their everyday life. This percentage is low enough that it is generally not considered a widespread issue, but it is also important to note that this number is slightly higher than the national estimate that 5.4% of people in the United States currently have a gambling issue. But in general, no, most college kids are gambling an acceptably social amount, and about the same percentage of people who have gambling problems across the board, also present themselves within the college demographic. 

And it’s likely these same people who have issues in college that continue to have issues which carry on into their adult life, as most people who are interviewed later in life with a gambling problem report that they made their first bets before the age of 17. Thus, it’s likely that people with gambling issues were exposed long before their college days and the college gambling they did had little to no effect on their gambling issues later in life. 

Overall, gambling is a very popular activity in college, and thus casinos will continue their tactics at hooking these young players as soon as they can via social media advertising. Regardless of the implications of this practice, most college kids generally don’t gamble to dangerous levels and genuinely gamble just for fun. But, if you are a college student, or an adult, and feel you may have a gambling problem, please don’t hesitate to seek help.

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