Sports Bettors More At Risk of Problem Gambling Than Other Gamblers, Says Study

new study published by the University of Guelph has found that sports bettors are exponentially more prone to develop problem spending habits than other gamblers.

The study, led by professor of psychology Harvey Marmurek and co-authored by Master’s students Katrina Olfert and Alysha Cooper, studied 1,280 self-identified gamblers from the wider Ontario region. Participants in the study were surveyed for their motivations, cognition, and impulsivity. From this number, 596 confirmed that they had engaged in sports betting activities as recently as the last year.

Those who had bet on sports were then asked to give themselves a rating based on the “known” signs of addictive and/or compulsive gambling, which include placing big bets in a state of excitement, acting more impulsively than normal when it comes to betting on sports, and experiencing relationship, financial, or even health issues because of individual gambling habits.

Marmurek said that the survey found that sports gamblers, who mostly fall into the category of young males, are more prone to higher overall bouts of impulsivity. This particular group also happens to be more involved in sports in general and are also much more vulnerable to compulsive betting on sports. “They tended to rate higher on just about everything,” Marmurek said. “They are higher on intellectual challenge as a motivation, for example. They are also higher overall on impulsivity.”

The research concludes that sports betting itself isn’t problematic; more so the personality and characteristics of the individual bettor. “They are more likely to say that they stick to it because they think they are going to win…” Marmurek said. “All gamblers think that there is likely more harm than benefit. But sports gamblers have a more positive attitude overall so their rating of ‘do the harms outweigh the benefits,’…is lower than for non-sports gamblers.”

Marmurek stresses that the study proves that proper and freely accessible education around sports betting is key at a time when it looks as though Canada may finally legalize single-event sports betting and continue to expand the wider sports betting market.

Bill C-218 is currently being debated in the Senate after passing at the House of Commons.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) recently launched #bettersportsbetting, a campaign aimed at amplifying the voices of Canadian sports fans that want to speak up in favour of legalization of single-event sports betting in Canada.

In a statement, the CGA “urges the Senate to continue to deal with Bill C-218 as expediently as possible given the groundswell of stakeholder support and Canada’s lack of safe regulated sports betting options when it comes to single-event sports betting.”

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