By Hayden Kulick
Everyone knows that excessive substance use is on the rise in the United States, and the popularization of sports gambling will not help that matter.
Sports gambling can be one of many gateways into the world of addiction. Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system similar to mind altering drugs.
With nearly 67% of college students betting on sports, it is easy to see why gambling corporations target college students.
“I’m not fully invested in the sports gambling scene but I can see how it can happen,” said Jacob Mckenzie, third year biology major at California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt. “It’s way too easy to get started.”
One of the biggest ways sports gambling companies like DraftKings and FanDuel advertise is through social media. Ninety-eight percent of all college students use social media regularly, making them an easy target on a daily basis.
“There’s a lot of promotions that I see when I’m scrolling through my feed that always seem like they are a much better deal than they are,” Mckenzie said. “I already don’t want to spend a lot of money on it but all these ‘spend $5 win $150’ advertisements seem like they are too good of a deal to pass up on.”
Another reason why sports gambling is popular amongst college students is the culture that comes along with it. Popular social media community Friday Beers is a big part of that culture.
They post entertaining screenshots of text messages weekly on their Instagram account regarding sports gambling that their followers send in. Most of the time the messages are something along the lines of, “I placed $150 on the US curling team just because I can.”
With the main part of their following being made up of younger people and college students, it’s easy to see how online communities exacerbate the issue.
Another popular social media personality that tries to turn sports betting into entertainment is a TikTok user by the username BookitWithTrent.
Trent Attyah is a sports bookmaker that has made a living off of sports betting. He produces multiple videos a day of him hitting and missing on his bets. He also encourages other users on the app to go out and bet the opposite of what he does.
With 88% of college students being on TikTok, it is easy to see how he has gained such a big following within the college community.
Addiction is on the rise amongst college students and sports gambling can lead to the same side effects that substance use does. People can experience personality changes such as irritability, restlessness and withdrawals as well as experiencing signs of depression and suicidal thoughts.
College is expensive as it is and adding an expensive habit like sports gambling on top of that can lead to financial struggles early in life. If someone is looking to get into the world of gambling, waiting until they are financially stable is the best route.
However, if anyone is struggling with a gambling addiction, they can seek help by calling 1-800-662-4357 or by visiting www.samhsa.gov.