NCAA Study: 60% Of College Students Bet On Sports. Significant For Kentucky?

Written By Matthew Bain on May 24, 2023 - Last Updated on June 29, 2023
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An NCAA study on sports betting found that 60% of college students bet on sports.

That result was perhaps the most striking of all the findings from the NCAA survey, which polled 3,527 18-to-22-year-olds, 1,702 of which were currently college students in the US. And that result holds more significance for a state like Kentucky, where 18 will be the legal age limit for sports betting.

Translation: Sports betting in Kentucky may be highly prevalent on college campuses … which could be a responsible gambling issue. The NCAA study found 16% of respondents engaged in risky betting behavior, and 70% of that group believed betting on sports would “increase their monetary earnings.”

Caesars Sportsbook recently partnered with Keeneland and The Red Mile for retail sportsbooks and an online sports betting license. Both Keeneland and The Red Mile are located in Lexington, where the University of Kentucky is.

Other notable findings from NCAA college sports gambling study

Students living on campus bet on sports at a higher frequency than students living off campus. The NCAA study found 67% of students living on campus bet on sports, compared to the 60% of college students overall.

Most betting is infrequent, with 21.9% saying they bet once a year or less and 35.7% saying a few times a year.

In addition, 41% of survey respondents said they bet on their college teams. The NFL is the most popular option with 56.6% reporting they bet on NFL games.

How many respondents are betting illegally?

Only five jurisdictions currently have 18 as their legal sports betting age limit: New Hampshire, Oregon, Wyoming, Rhode Island and Washington, DC. And, even in those five jurisdictions, not all sportsbook apps are 18-plus.

FanDuel and BetMGM are 21-plus in all their active jurisdictions. Check out our links to learn more about FanDuel Sportsbook KY and BetMGM online sportsbook in Kentucky.

Caesars Sportsbook KY will be 21-plus in Kentucky, it has already announced.

DraftKings allows 18-and-over bettors in New Hampshire but not Oregon. It remains to be seen what option DraftKings Sportsbook in Kentucky will decide when it launches.

Still, this doesn’t appear to be much of a hindrance at all for betting among college students. The NCAA survey found that 71% of respondents were either too young to gamble on sports in their state, or sportsbooks were illegal in their state. Of that group, 56% reported to be illegally betting on sports.

The Northeast had the largest contingent of sports bettors — 61% of respondents saying they bet — and the West had the smallest contingent — 54%. However, even 54% is a majority.

Why the NCAA commissioned this study

These study findings come out as the NCAA and college sports, as a whole, are under scrutiny for betting activity. Alabama recently fired its baseball coach after he was linked to “suspicious betting activity.”

In the Midwest, both Iowa and Iowa State announced they were investigating allegations of illegal sports betting among their student-athletes.

“We needed a new baseline so we can better understand what student-athletes are experiencing on their campuses and among their peers so we can best help them deal with the potentially disruptive dynamic of legal sports betting,” NCAA President Charlie Baker said in a press release announcing the study results. “Sports betting has increased interest in sports of all kinds, including college sports, which is great for our fans, but the NCAA and everyone from coaches to athletics department staff and college presidents must better understand what impact sports betting may have on student-athletes.”

The release also said: “Current or former NCAA athletes may have been in the pool of respondents but not in sufficient numbers to examine their data separately.”

Opinion Diagnostics conducted the study. It surveyed respondents from April 18-25, 2023.

Photo by AP Photo/James Crisp
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Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain started as a Content Manager for PlayKentucky and other Catena Media sites in 2022. He covered the launch of Massachusetts sports betting and the Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 battle in California. Before that, he spent six years as a sports reporter and then deputy sports editor for the Des Moines Register, during which time he won nine statewide journalism awards, including the Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award. As deputy sports editor, Matthew oversaw the Register's recruiting coverage while also innovating the outlet's high school sports coverage. Matthew graduated from San Diego State and grew up in California, but he's somehow a Boston Celtics fan. Long story.

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