A survey shared by the NCAA and conducted by Opinion Diagnostics suggests a majority of college-aged adults are betting on sports, even with restricted access to the legal sports betting market.
The survey was conducted from April 18-25, and it included 3,527 responses from people 18-22 years old. Of those survey participants, 1,702 of them are attending universities in the U.S. The survey found that 58% of respondents have placed a sports bet, and 67% of students living on campus are bettors. College students regularly wager on their own school’s teams (41%), and about one third of college students have used a student bookmaker.
State legality and age restrictions didn’t hamper betting activity, the survey found. Of respondents, 71% were either too young to bet legally or lived in an area without legal sports betting, but 56% of members in that subgroup engaged in sports betting activities.
The NCAA survey was conducted prior to a sports wagering scandal at the University of Alabama and wagering violations at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.
“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,” NCAA President Charlie Baker said in a statement. “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.”
Noteworthy wagering habits
Survey data suggested wagering was infrequent among college-aged bettors, with about 58% of them wagering once a year or only a few times a year. Only 4% of surveyed bettors were placing wagers on a daily basis, 10% on a weekly basis.
The size of the wagers was mostly modest, as 79% of bets fell between the $1-$50 range. Just over 70% of bettors reported a highest daily loss between $1-$100.
The data collection also tried to flag risky betting behaviors. Those were defined as either betting multiple times per week or daily, having a typical unit size of $50 or more, or losing more than $500 in a single day of betting. The survey found that 16% of these 18-22-year-olds checked one of those three boxes.
Advertising impacted this subsection of bettors, with 80% of the higher-risk bettors saying sports betting marketing materials make them more likely to gamble. Survey respondents from the Northeast and the South as well as Black respondents were reported as overrepresented in the higher-risk gambler category.
Live betting was particularly popular among respondents who answered that they had bet on sports, with 61% saying they’ve placed a live bet on a game. That was the most popular form of wagering among respondents, with moneyline (44%), over/under (40%), parlays (38%), and point spreads (36%) also common forms of betting.
Most interesting part of NCAA survey to me is how big in-game betting has become.
That’s the toughest kind of bet for integrity services to monitor and why real-time data is important. pic.twitter.com/VVQr0U2nWh
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) May 24, 2023
More than 75% of respondents said betting on a game would make them more likely to watch that sporting event.
Data between genders wasn’t skewed dramatically. Men are still more likely to bet than women, but 51% of women surveyed had participated in some form of sports betting.
Student-athlete survey coming
The survey provides potentially useful information about wagering among college-aged individuals in the U.S., but it doesn’t specifically single out student-athletes. The NCAA plans to conduct a survey of student-athletes and their wagering habits, but data collection isn’t expected to conclude until 2024.
The NCAA hopes the study shared Wednesday provides useful context for wagering habits among college students, shedding some light on the environment surrounding student-athletes.
“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,” Clint Hangebrauck, managing director of enterprise risk management at the NCAA, said. “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.”