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Gambling on Campus Is Risky Business . Magna Publications Audio Conference November 1, 2006 Presenters: Jeffrey Marotta, Ph. D Wendy Hausotter, MPH Oregon Department of Human Services. Source: USA Today – December 23, 2005. Campus Gambling is in the News. A Perfect Storm?. A ge:

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Gambling on Campus Is Risky Business

Magna Publications Audio Conference

November 1, 2006


Jeffrey Marotta, Ph. D

Wendy Hausotter, MPH

Oregon Department of Human Services

Source: USA Today – December 23, 2005

Campus Gambling is in the News

A Perfect Storm?

  • Age:

    • College years associated with a wide range of at-risk behaviors

  • Availability:

    • First generation to be exposed to wide-scale legal gambling. Technological advances make placing bets easier than ever.

  • Acceptability:

    • Operated by governments, commonly endorsed by schools, integrated into mainstream culture.

  • Advertising/Media:

    • More than ever. Promoted as sport, glamorized, winning bias.

  • Access to cash:

    • The average college student receives about 25 credit card solicitations per semester (National Public Radio).

Gambling at CollegePercentage of college students who say they take part in gambling in an average week:

Source: Annenberg Public Policy Center

“At the college and university level, poker is pretty much the hottest thing going” Mike Edwards, Business Development Manager for

  • 26% of college men gamble in online card games at least once a month

    and 4% once a week or more

  • Internet gambling is illegal however there are at least 300 online poker rooms with an estimated $60 billion bet in 2006.

Gambling appears common and benign for most college students

  • Gambling at some level is the norm among college students

    • 72% in Alberta sample

    • 70% in Connecticut sample

    • 88% in Minnesota sample

  • A sizable percentage of college student gamble excessively and show signs of a gambling problem (3.2% - 16.4%).



Gambling behavior which causes or disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational


Persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behavior that disrupts personal, family or vocational pursuits


Lifetime prevalence of combined problem and pathological gambling

Source: Shaffer & Hall (2002). Updating and refining meta-analytic prevalence estimates of disordered gambling behavior in the United States and Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 92(3), 169-172

High Risk Groups



& Other Correlates

Source: Rockey, Beason, & Gilbert (2002). Gambling by college athletes: An association between problem gambling and athletes. EJGS: 7

2002 study on 954 students from 9 universities belonging to Southeastern Conference.

Results: Male athletes risk of developing PG is about 3X higher than average student.

Gambling by college athletes


  • 72% of student athletes have gambled at least once since entering college; 45% of male athletes gamble on sports

  • One in 20 male student athletes admitted:

    • providing inside information for gambling purposes

    • betting on a game in which they participated, or

    • accepting money for performing poorly in a game

  • Student athletes who gambled on sports with bookies gambled an average of $225 per month

Greeks vs. Non-Greeks

  • General gambling:

    • Fraternity/Sorority Members 82%

    • Non-Members 80%

  • Rate of problem gambling:

    • Fraternity/Sorority Members 5%

    • Non-Members 2.9%

Source: Rockey, 2002; Southeastern Conference (SEC) study


weekly or daily user of alcohol or illicit drugs

relatively high disposable income

raised by a parent with a gambling problem

NOT associated with problem gambling:

amount of credit card debt


school class level

Correlates of Problem Gambling

Source: Winters, 1998



Telling the Difference

Frequent, or spends more time gambling

Occasional gambler

Sticks to limits of money to play with

Plays with $ that is needed or borrowed

Hopes to win but

expects to lose

Expects to win; keeps playing to win back losses

Can take it or

leave it

Pre-occupied with gambling

Are we dealing with an epidemic?

Longitudinal data

What colleges and universities are doing to address issue

468 first year college students followed from age 18 to 29 (four data points at year 1,4,7, & 11)

Overall prevalence of past-year problems remained steady throughout the 11 years (2-3%) with lifetime prevalence of 10.3%.

75% of freshman with PG reported no problem as seniors.

Results suggest that gambling problems are not a persistent condition but rather people move in and out of problem gambling stages somewhat fluidly.

Source: Slutske, Jackson, & Sher (2003). The natural history of problem gambling from age 18 to 29. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112, 263-274.

Do college problem gamblers “mature out” of a gambling problem?

Source: Shaffer, Donato, LaBrie, Kidman, & LaPlante (2005). The epidemiology of college alcohol and gambling policies. Harm Reduction Journal 2005, 2:1

Methods: Information collected from 119 colleges using 40 item data collection instrument.

Results: All schools had a student alcohol use policy, only 26 schools (22%) had a gambling policy.

Conclusion: Since there are few college gambling-related policies, schools are missing an opportunity to inform students about the dangers of excessive gambling.

How Do College Addiction Policies Stack Up?

What Colleges Can Do







applies equally to 2- and 4-year institutions

Assess the problem

  • Preferred: student survey

  • Alternative: diverse focus groups (athlete, greek, “average”, student council, class level, gender, ethnicity)

a few focus group questions

  • How common is student gambling?

  • How are students gambling?

  • Are you seeing and problems or negative effects?

  • What is the best way to get the attention of students for an issue like this?

  • What information/services should the school provide”?


  • your own, “survey monkey” type or from a vendor (may be best for confidentiality concerns)

  • e-survey may be best for college age

  • IRB issues

  • Caveat: wording of questions is important

Cultivate potential partners

  • Academic departments: psychology, public health, athletics

  • Student organizations/student gov’t

  • Administrative departments: health and counseling services, financial aid, student affairs

  • Local treatment, prevention

    and recovery groups

Build Awareness

  • Can be low or no cost

  • Involve students as much as possible

  • Use a variety of means and keep the messages alive

sampler of awareness ideas

  • Problem Gambling

    Awareness Week

  • Campaign via fliers, posters, pamphlets

  • Campus tv and radio shows

  • Web-based info and resources

  • Student orientation sessions/materials

  • Address in course assignments: ethics, psychology, sociology, government, health, film, journalism, business

Example: Problem Gambling Awareness Week

  • National campaign offering website, materials

  • Many states and local jurisdictions participate and can be your partners


Include responsible gambling guidelines

  • Set a money limit and stick to it.

  • Set a time limit and stick to it.

  • Make it a rule not to gamble on credit.

  • Consider any losses the cost of recreation

  • Expect to lose and treat any winnings as a bonus.

  • Don’t gamble as a way to cope with emotional or physical pain.

  • Gambling should not interfere with or substitute for friends, family, work, or other

  • worthwhile activities.

  • Avoid trying to win back lost money.

  • Become educated about the warning signs of problem gambling.

Example: course work

Includes a chapter on state-supported gambling with discussion, debates and assignments

Example: websitethissite isextensive….why?

Because Lehigh U. knowsthe problem is realGreg Hogan was:

  • a 19-year-old finance and accounting major at Lehigh University

  • president of his sophomore class

  • a cellist in the university orchestra

  • an employee in the school chaplain's office

  • the son of a Baptist minister ….and

  • a student with a gambling problem whose desperation drove him to bank robbery and jail

Offer Specialized Training

  • Student health and

    counseling staff

  • Peer educators

  • Resident assistants

  • Student leadership

  • Faculty, admin, coaches

    Topics: signs, symptoms, referral and support

Offer Intervention & Assistance

  • Assessment and referral and followup support on campus

  • Information on and connections to local gambling treatment resources including counseling, helpline

  • National helpline

  • Local (or campus?) Gambler’s Anonymous

  • Online resources

A Simple Screen: Lie-Bet Tool(Johnson et al., 1988)

1) Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money?

2) Have you ever had to lie to people important to you about how much you gambled?

  • valid and reliable for ruling out pathological gambling behavior

  • useful in screening to determine whether a longer tool (e.g., SOGS, DSM-IV) should be used in diagnostics

Develop Policy

  • Address gambling as you would any other risky behavior

  • Avoid zero tolerance approach

  • Internet is worth special attention

  • Reference athletics’ existing policies


Handout offers an extensive list

Final advice

Start somewhere!

there are many

pieces to an

effort like this, and

even one piece

represents progress

After you put the pieces in place, give yourself credit…let key supporters know you are taking a stand

  • Parents

  • Alumni

  • Local media

  • Other academic institutions

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