The increased popularity of sports gambling puts young adults at risk of developing a betting problem

Keith Savage, Contributing Writer

With commercials promoting gambling and companies like Barstool Sports making shows about it, young adults can easily get sucked into the addictive world of betting. Gambling sites appeal to young users by offering them a promo code to play for free the first time. Many people get hooked after that one game, especially if they made a profit. Avid sports fans in college are the perfect targets for sports gambling since there is already a track record for this demographic to engage in other risky behaviors. Students as young as 18 years old are susceptible to its addictive nature and persistent advertisements and may develop a gambling problem later in life.

Graphic by Michael Clement

Sports gambling grows exponentially every year. DraftKings and FanDuel are the two main powerhouses for sports gambling. According to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a research firm, the two platforms control 66% of online sports betting as of February 2020. You can bet on any sports game on any given day. For example, FanDuel gives you $60,000 to spend on basketball players. Los Angeles Lakers star player LeBron James would cost $15,500 for the game, while a bench player like teammate Alex Caruso would only cost $7,000.

One of the worst things that could happen in gambling is winning big money in one day because the huge success could get participants hooked. It is vital to understand that sports gambling gets more addictive over time. One first-year student shared that he is currently hooked on gambling and that there are likely more like him. A young adult can become consumed with gambling over time because of the feeling of success.

Daily fantasy sports gambling is legal in Connecticut, but that is the only type of sports gambling that is allowed in the state. Sports betting such as spreads, money lines and over/unders are not yet legal, but a student told me he has a “bookie.” According to, a bookie is “someone who facilitates gambling by setting odds, accepting and placing bets and then paying out the winnings.” You also have to be at least 21 years old in those states to be able to bet on games.

The student who has a bookie told me he spends $200 each week just betting on the results of a sports game. That is $150 more a week than he spends on daily gambling. Overall, that one student spends over $1,000 every month on sports gambling and betting. Although this may be a lot of money to some, he is likely not the only student who bets that amount of money. Because of all the promotion that is shown about sports daily gambling as well as betting, it isn’t too difficult to imagine how someone is compelled to give it a try and later get hooked.

With sports betting and gambling becoming more popular in recent years, many students have started participating as young as 18 or 19 years old and may continue in their 20s. Students older than that usually have better jobs and will generally have more money to spend and more expenses to pay off. For example, students who recently graduated college are close to start paying back their college loans and are wondering how to earn money quickly. It is plausible to believe some older students could resort to sports betting and gambling to help them out of that hole. This is an example of how sports betting can become a problem.

They also know that small amounts of invested money will not win them big cash. Students need to spend hundreds of dollars on any given week to win a suitable amount of money.

With popular Barstool Sports podcasts and shows like “Barstool Pick Em” and “Voices of Wall Street” promoting which sports teams to bet on, it is entertaining for viewers and entices them to continue betting. Barstool is also trying to get into the sports betting world, so one day people can make bets on its websites.

Something else to also keep in mind is the demographics of Barstool viewers. According to CivicScience, “15% of all college-aged kids visit Barstool properties every day and 26% every week.”

Young college students have a greater chance of getting addicted because of the need for money, the wide range of promotion and the likelihood that they are avid sports fans. It is going to continue to get bigger over time.