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College Students and Gambling

College student gambling is on the rise as it becomes more accessible with local casinos and online options. When done legally and in moderation, gambling can be a fun activity, but it can also contribute to increased debt, gambling addiction, and other serious consequences for college-age gamblers. 


Why do students gamble? 

Woman gambling at a poker table

  • Need money
  • Distraction from stress
  • Thrill of placing a bet 
  • False belief they can “get rich quick”
  • Social activity 

Three Criteria of Gambling

  1. Players wager money or an object of value;
  2. this best is irreversible once placed, and;
  3. the game’s outcome relies on chance.

Gambling addiction warning signs 

  • Thinks about gambling constantly
  • Asks others for money to cover debt 
  • Missing work, school, or other obligations 
  • Unexplained money or new expensive possessions  
  • Impatient with or ignores friends and family
  • Delays or does not make payment of billsPast due mail envelope


  • Criminal charges if you participate in illegal gambling or are under 21 years of age 
  • Missing class or social events 
  • Risk to academic performance and loss of scholarships 
  • Serious financial debt 
  • Mental health impact and suicidal thoughts 

Facts About Gambling Among College Students

  • Approximately 75% of college students gambled during the past year, both legally and illegally.
  • About 18% of college students are gambling weekly or more frequently.
  • Both student athletes and students who are sports fans gamble more than other students.
  • Lotteries, card games, sports betting, and games of skill (e.g., bowling, basketball, pool, golf, darts) are the most frequently chosen gambling activities by college students.
  • Despite the prevalence of on-campus gambling, only 22% of U.S. colleges and universities have formal policies on gambling.
  • Most recent research estimates 6% of young people and young adults have a gambling problem.

Do you, or anyone you know, have a gambling problem? 

Visit these on-campus resources: 


This initiative is supported by a local law enforcement grant from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board