It’s almost time for college students to head to campus for the start of the school year. In Ohio, responsible gambling advocates are using the occasion to raise awareness of just how prevalent problem gambling behaviors are among young adults.
According to “Get Set Before You Bet,” 75% of college students have said they’ve gambled in some fashion. In addition, college students are more prone to develop problem gambling issues. At 6%, the rate for those young adults nationally is more than double the rate for the overall population.
“Get Set Before You Bet” is an awareness campaign created by the Prevention Action Alliance, a Columbus-based certified prevention agency that helps communities create safe environments. The campaign receives funding and support from Ohio for Responsible Gambling (ORG), a state-created initiative that brings together the state’s lottery, casino, and racing commissions in partnership with the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Funding for the campaign comes from gaming taxes generated in the state.
Toolkit Focuses on College Students
This past week, the Prevention Action Alliance announced the creation of an online toolkit specifically to promote awareness of problem gambling issues that develop in college students.
The toolkit includes resources for colleges, including handouts and print and online advertisements that promote the initiatives.
It includes a nine-question quiz that students can take to identify their risk of developing problem gambling behaviors. It also offers tips on gambling responsibly, such as establishing limits on how much they wager and urging students to take on hobbies that don’t involve betting.
The toolkit also informs students about the impact gambling has on mental health. It’s an important topic because, in recent years, numerous studies have found increases in anxiety and depression among college students.
“Gambling should not be used as a coping mechanism or a form of escapism,” a flyer from the toolkit states. “Instead of betting, try joining an on-campus club, playing your favorite sport through an intramural league, or having a weekly dinner with friends.”
Earlier this year, researchers at Boston University released a study that looked at eight years of data involving 350,000 students at more than 300 colleges. From 2013 to 2021, the study found a 135% increase in the number of students with depression and a 110% increase in students dealing with anxiety. Further, twice as many college students met the criteria for at least one mental health issue in 2021 as were found in 2013.
The toolkit for college students is just one of several available at “Get Set Before You Bet.” Other toolkits have been created for such populations as seniors, veterans, minority communities, and youth influencers.
Sports Betting Coming to Ohio
The college awareness campaign also comes just as Ohio is getting ready to award licenses for sports betting. Organizers say that expansion in Ohio could lead to a potential increase in students developing problem gambling issues.
For students who love to cheer on their universities’ sports teams, sports betting provides another avenue for them to place bets on everything from the College Football Playoffs to March Madness and more,” ORG stated in a blog post about the campaign aimed at college students.
Sports betting isn’t the only issue of concern for college students, as advocates also note that fantasy sports games, card games, and other forms of gambling – both in-person and online – are available to students on campuses.
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