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College Students and Gambling Tahira K. Hira, Ph.D., CFP Professor Human Development & Family Studies Iowa State University Gambling in Iowa between 10,000 & 31,000 are currently “compulsive gamblers,” 33,000 to 62,000 are “problem gamblers.” Gambling among College Students

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college students and gambling

College Students and Gambling

Tahira K. Hira, Ph.D., CFP


Human Development & Family Studies

Iowa State University

gambling in iowa
Gambling in Iowa
  • between 10,000 & 31,000 are currently “compulsive gamblers,”
  • 33,000 to 62,000 are “problem gamblers.”
gambling among college students
Gambling among College Students

“... it was impossible to visit a campus and not find at least a handful of sophisticated operations run by students ....” (Sports Illustrated AP. 10,1995. PP 68-79)

objectives of the study were to determine the
Objectives of the study were to determine the:
  • extent & type of gambling activities common among ISU students
  • Students’ attitudes, opinions and beliefs about gambling
  • reasons for gambling
  • need for education and information (type and sources)
sources of data
Sources of Data

Data were collected in Summer &

Fall ‘96

  • ISU survey (n = 797)
  • Des Moines survey (Students =162)
  • focus groups (n = 10)
  • Five colleges were represented
  • Males 51%
  • Part-time employed 52%
  • Residence Status:
    • Off-campus 46%
    • Residence halls 38%
proportion of college students gambling

Proportion of college students gambling

over half (52% ) of those participating in the survey indicated they gambled

des moines survey n 162
Des Moines survey (n=162)
  • mean age 23yrs
  • mean income $9,103
  • mean debt $6,416
  • gamblers 48%
  • females 61%
  • had C.C. loans 32%
  • had consolidated loans 32%
  • used ATMs 44%

What about sports gambling?

  • According to 22% of the students...
  • “Sports gambling at ISU
  • is widespread!”
how prevalent is student gambling
How prevalent is student gambling

According to participants in students focus groups.....

  • “easily half of the students gamble”
  • “virtually everybody I hang out with seems to gamble a little bit or follow sports, where we know something is going to happen.”
  • “a majority of students gamble in some sort. Whether it be on a football game or whatever.”

it starts casually?

  • “I started out maybe a couple of times a week, towards the end I was gambling almost every day.
  • “I started with playing for small amounts of money ($2 to $5), and it got to the point I had to go to the bank before going to play golf. I had to have more money just in case I lost.”

It starts as fun....

“Tell them it starts as fun, and soon people can’t quit.”

its all around
Its all around.....
  • gambling is becoming more prevalent
  • kids grow up in an environment where people in the family gamble....
  • so you learn about it from the moment you start talking to people.
student gambling behavior
Student gambling behavior
  • “I usually take $30-40. But then my problem is, you've got your cash cards, checks, etc.. I’ve gone through about $300 at one time.”
  • “I initially played a $10 bill, soon I was spending $40, but by the time winter came around I had $80-100 when I would go.”

Easy access to cash & credit- the allure of gambling

Students say:

“when we first started going we would take $200 in cash, now that they have put ATM’s there....if you lose, you can easily get more money out to play.”

main reason they gamble

Main reason they gamble?

Entertainment 67%

To win money 29%

men and woman gamble for different reasons
Men and woman gamble for different reasons.
  • women gamble for entertainment
  • men gamble to win
main reason for not gambling

Main Reason for Not Gambling:

Can’t afford 16%

Other 26%

age, money, time, transportation


what do their parents think about your gambling

What do their parents think about your gambling?

A majority (70%) said their parents knew about their gambling but...

“They don’t care” 43%

“It’s fine with them” 41%

extent of problem gambling
Extent of problem gambling

those who sought help for serious gambling problems for:

  • friends (6%)
  • family members (2%)
should there be an age restriction for gambling
Should there be an age restriction for gambling?


  • Age 16-18 48%
  • Age 19-21 29%
  • Age 22 and up 24%
who should provide help to those facing problems due to gambling
Who should provide help to those facing problems due to gambling?
  • 1-800-BETS-OFF 68%
  • Student Counseling Service 54%
  • ISU Financial Counseling Clinic 47%
type of help information
Type of Help/Information
  • pamphlets that can be picked up confidentially
  • “hot-line/help-line where people can call and talk confidentially...”
  • “a place to talk about addiction”
  • “financial counseling for those who don’t want to admit they have gambling addiction”
give facts about gambling
Give facts about gambling
  • “probability of winning and losing”
  • “specific information on how much money is lost and how much is won”
  • “how fast one can lose money”
  • “information on how to rigthe machine”
he says it all
He says it all...

“I would say just make them aware-

that you are going to lose, it’s not even a 50-50 chance of winning..,

be aware of the consequences of it.”

include information about
Include Information about.....
  • “signs of gambling addiction”
  • “characteristics of compulsive gamblers”
  • “real life stories about the impact of gambling losses on people’s lives”
  • “before and after photographs”
  • “testimonials of people who have gotten in trouble for gambling”

Our students say........

“In our society

what we are doing is


you don’t have to work for your money.”

where to from here
Where to ... from here ...
  • important to accept that it exists
    • increasing numbers of students on campuses are involved in gambling
  • gambling problems have long term effects on students :
    • personally and professionally
  • develop programs
    • to prevent problem gambling
    • to help those who are in trouble due to gambling