A study requested by the Iowa Department of Public Health shows a majority of college students have gambled in the last year. Eric Pruess of the Office of Gambling Treatment and Prevention, says the study included students from the University of Northern Iowa and Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. “What we discovered was, that nearly seven in 10 respondents had gambled in the previous year and that about 10-percent of college students who were surveyed actually met the criteria for problem gambling,” Pruess says.
Pruess says one thing he takes away from the numbers is a benign view of gambling. “College students don’t seem to necessarily see gambling as a potentially serious issue similar to other addictive disorders that might exist on college campuses, like binge drinking,” Preuss says. He says finding that 70-percent of the college students in this survey had gambled, raises more questions. “I think the first thing that it raises is the need to do additional questioning and research on what is really the impact of gambling activity on the college student,” according to Pruess.
He wants to find out if they view gambling as recreation, or if it has become more. “It is disposable income that they’re using and it’s part of entertainment for them,” Preuss asks, “or is it something where they are now crossing the lines and they’re looking for bigger and bigger wins and then it’s removing them from why they are in college, as far as looking at and wanting to be successful in their studies and that kind of thing.”
He stops short of calling gambling seductive for college students, but says it’s one of many things that pull at their attention. “I think even for adults, if you have this need for excitement or had a desire for excitement, there’s a a lot of different things out there that could tempt someone or could encourage someone to try something out,” Pruess says. “It might even start as something that might appear free, but in the long run turn into something that might encourage the use of money and other things that might start causing problems for folks.”
The college gambling study was conducted by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research, and was one of three looking at gambling issues. Another survey found that among kids in 6th, 8th and 11th grade, boys are more likely to gamble compared to girls. The survey found 38-percent of the boys in that group gambled, compared to 14-percent for the girls. The third study found those who sought and completed treatment for problem gambling had very few problems afterwards. Preuss says anyone who thinks they may have a gambling problem can call 1-800-BetsOff, or go to www.1800BetsOff.org.