Sports Betting Leads to Problem Gambling, Study Claims

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Survey. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The University of Guelph published a study that claims that sports bettors are more likely to turn into problem gamblers than any other group of wagerers.

A recent study conducted at the University of Guelph in Ontario shows that sports gamblers are more likely to develop problematic gambling behavioural patterns than any other group of bettors. 

According to professor of psychology, Harvey Marmurek, compulsive gambling is a problem that should not be taken lightly since this compulsive behaviour has the potential to harm both the gamblers and those closest to them. 

The study comes at a delicate time when Canadian senators are considering legalising single-event sports betting.  The fear remains that the betting liberalisation would cause more harm to vulnerable bettors and those in financial difficulty.

Sports Gamblers Surveyed

Over 1,280 self-identified bettors from Ontario took part in the survey. Out of those, 596 engaged in sports betting over the last year.  All respondents were asked to score themselves based on the recognised signs of compulsive gambling. These indicators include using large sums of money when excited or experiencing financial, health, or relationship problems resulting from gambling.

Prof. Marmurek noted that the participants were surveyed according to their motivation, impulsiveness, and cognition. He stated that sports gamblers show higher overall levels of impulsiveness. The study demonstrated that sports gamblers are primarily younger males who tend to be more involved in sports gambling and are more susceptible to compulsive gambling.

The researchers assumed that sports wagering is not solely to blame, but more the personality and the behavioural traits of individuals attracted to it.  Marmurek added that sports punters choose sports betting because they believe they will win and don’t see the harm of it. Additionally, these gamblers have a more affirmative attitude towards sports betting, in contrast to regular gamblers.

Marmurek further stated that sports bettors are more likely to lose control when they get excited watching their team winning or are on a winning streak. He also addressed the potential introduction of single-game sports wagering and its likely effect on gamblers. He explained that the survey is not linked to Bill C-218, although he believes that more work would need to be done to curtail compulsive gambling should it be passed by the senate.