Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

The Impact of Gambling Proximity on Gambling Attitudes, Subjective Norms, Gambling Intentions, and Gambling Behavior of College Athletes

Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

The Impact of Gambling Proximity on Gambling Attitudes, Subjective Norms, Gambling Intentions, and Gambling Behavior of College Athletes

Article excerpt


Because of their desire for competition, college student athletes may be highly susceptible to the excitement of gambling. In fact, Cullen and Latessa (1996) found 25% of Division I football and basketball players indicated they had bet on college sports and Cross and Vollano (1999) found over 45% gambled on sports while attending college. Although the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has rules strictly prohibiting athletes from participating in gambling, cases of reported gambling by athletes continues to increase.

More opportunities to gamble may exasperate this problem (Kassinove, 1998). In fact, research suggests a positive link between proximity of gambling opportunities and problem gambling (Eadington, 1989; Lesieur, 1992; National Gambling Impact Study, 1999; Shaffer and Hall, 1997; Whyte, 1997). Moreover, Volberg (1994) and others (Gerstein, Volberg, Toce, and Howard, 1999: Shaffer, LaBrie, and LaPlante, 2004) have found that proximity or accessibility (Gilliland, 2003; Marshall, 2004) of gambling activities is linked to higher rates of pathological gambling. Therefore, it is very important to determine if proximity to a gambling venue affects college student athletes. Understanding the potential link between proximity and gambling among athletes is key for colleges and universities across the United States.


Definition of Gambling

Gambling, especially problem or pathological gambling, is of major concern in the United States. Pathological gambling was formally recognized as a mental disorder in 1980 (American Psychiatric Association, 1980). In 1994, the American Psychiatric Association published a new set of criteria for evaluating excessive gambling habits in its Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV). A person was diagnosed as a "compulsive gambler" with five "yes" responses to 10 items, which together indicate a persistent and recurrent maladaptive behavior. The DSM-IV also classifies gamblers as:

1. Recreational gamblers or those who can gamble merely for recreational purposes and do not develop problem gambling habits,

2. At-Risk gamblers or those who gamble more than once a week and use the means of gambling as a money making opportunity, and

3. Pathological gamblers or those who gamble continuously with hopes of hitting the big one. They risk personal relationships, employment opportunities, and other life conditions in order to gamble.

College Student Athletes and Gambling

While student athletes are not the only students involved in gambling on college campuses, and not all are pathological or even at-risk gamblers, more attention is given when they get caught. This can have a negative impact on the players, the athletic department, and the image of the university. Over the years, there have been highly publicized incidents involving athletes at major universities, including the University of Maryland, Boston College, Northwestern University, and Arizona State University. The issue of gambling, and especially sports wagering, has been of significant importance to the NCAA membership for the entire existence of the Association (NCAA, 2004). Even an isolated incident can undermine the integrity of a sport. Thus, there remains a strong commitment by NCAA institutions to educate those associated with college sports about the dangers of gambling (NCAA, 2004). The NCAA has a no tolerance policy, whereby the athlete is removed from competition as a result of gambling involvement.

In addition, to the negative impact on the athlete, the concern about gambling by college athletes also stems from the substantial economic investment of colleges and universities and associated businesses in intercollegiate athletics (Cross, Basten, Hendrick, Kristofic, and Schaffer, 1998) and the potential of a negative impact. The integrity of college sports and the continuation of the associated economic rewards depend on the assurance the games are being played straight (Cross et al. …

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