I sat in on a session discussing the NCAA’s 2012 sports wagering and social environments study. The NCAA has studies every year, generally returning to the same topic every four years. This is the third edition of the sports wagering study, after 2004 and 2008.
This study included a new dimension by asking about an athlete’s social environment, essentially the people, communities, and support structures athletes have around them. The survey asked athletes things like how they felt about being a student-athlete, who they turn to for help, and what type of education and advice they would like to receive from their coaches and teachers. The data was too preliminary to get into any specifics, but will be fascinating when released.
On the gambling front, the numbers and analysis were again, only preliminary, but some interesting trends developed or continued. Gambling activity, not just on sports was generally down. This includes non-sports wagering, sports wagering, and manipulation of games (i.e. point-shaving, fixing games, giving inside info). That is despite gambling becoming more accessible and acceptable through mobile and internet gambling tools as well as how gambling is marketed and portrayed in the media.
Golf continues to be the problem area. Golfers report engaging in some gambling activities two or three times as often as athletes at large, and are even more likelier to be problem gamblers vs. the rest of the student-athlete population. Contrary to popular belief, this is not just the result of the on-course gambling that is an everyday part of golf. More study is needed to find out exactly what is going on here.
Finally, the NCAA is watching some important trends. One is in the area of spot fixing and in-game live betting. In-game live betting is based around quick prop bets, like whether a team will get a first down or who the first player to score will be. It offers instant gratification and a chance for “chasing” behaviors, where gamblers try to make back their loses. This bets are manipulated by athletes as well (this is spot fixing), a problem that is current most prevalent in soccer around the globe. As this type of gambling grows more popular in the United States, it could lead to an increase in game manipulation and gambling by athletes.