US college students have mixed views on gambling, finds study

US college students are divided as to whether they find gambling exciting or an activity they enjoy, according to a new study.

Researchers from Stockton University’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism (LIGHT) surveyed 502 students aged between 18 and 25, offering respondents a $10 Amazon voucher for completing a 10-minute questionnaire to find out what they do and don’t enjoy about gambling offline and on the web.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the students said they had gambled at least once, but the real split came when asking whether they found gambling “exciting” or “interesting”, where 41 per cent of respondents said they did, while 46 per cent said they were “uninterested” of “completely uninterested”.

The results follow a similar study from YouGov, that found that 47 per cent of US millenials found casinos “depressing”, a nine per cent jump from the 38 per cent of those aged 65 or older with the same views.

Top US online casinos and their offline counterparts are frantically attempting to attract younger crowds to their services, with millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) generally considered to prefer games of skill like poker to those of chance like traditional slot machines. However, the study found that of the students who did gamble, more than half (52%) had put money into a slot machine, compared to 42.6 per cent for the lottery, and 30 per cent for table games like poker. Only 28 per cent of the gamblers that responded had used a bookies or online sportsbook to place a bet on a sporting event.

A significant finding from the 2019 report is that problem gambling rates among college students appear to have remained relatively stable over the last few years, despite significant changes to the laws surrounding gambling in the US, which has made the practice more widely available. The report explains: “Ten respondents in the study reported that gambling has caused serious problems in the past three months. This represents three percent of respondents who have gambled and two percent of total respondents…This is similar to the results from a previous report on college gambling behaviour that was done in 2016.”

Neva Pryor, Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, which helped commissioned the study, told the Press of Atlantic City that the information would be useful for the group to better target its “prevention and treatment messages”.

Photograph by Scott Nazelrod

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