Sports Gambling at MTSU


Story by Elisha Nelson, Contributing Writer

Photo by Jonathan Salazar, Photographer

Sports gambling is becoming popular among college students with the 2019 passage of the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, which legalized online sports betting in the state.

Britton Barnette, a junior majoring in journalism with a concentration in sports media, said he bets on three games a week, placing $10 bets on average. He makes his bets after gaining information from betting podcasts.

“If you overdo it it’s a problem, but if you place $10 or $5 as a low-end bet, that’s a smarter way of playing it,” said Barnette, who said the most he’s won in any week is $50.

Barnette said players in his fantasy league are becoming interested in sports gambling. He sees gambling as another way to root for a team in a game and enjoys the quick cash that comes from it.

According to the International Center for Responsible Gaming, approximately 75 percent of college students gambled during the past year (whether legally or illegally), with about 18 percent gambling weekly or more frequently.

Jayce Standridge, a media and sports student said he gambles a couple of times a week and sees it as a source of entertainment. “As long as you’re self-disciplined with it and don’t let it get out of control, it shouldn’t be an issue for anyone,” he said.

Standridge began placing bets after seeing advertisements from DraftKings and FanDuel when gambling became legal in May 2019. He added that members in his fraternity frequent sports gambling as a means to make money and a method of entertainment.

William Feck, a counselor at MTSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center said gambling is not an issue with students on campus. “I don’t think it’s been on our radar as something we’re specifically targeting,” Feck said. But he added, “We’re open to helping students. I don’t know if enough time has passed for us to know anything yet.”

The International Center for Responsible Gaming notes that only 22% of colleges and universities in the U.S. have policies addressing student gambling. MTSU’s Student Conduct and Community Standards state that gambling and unlawful gambling in any form is prohibited on campus.

According to the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association, the average age of sports bettors is 38 and 45% of all sports betters earn more than $75,000. However, young adults are gaining easier access to gambling, with the 2019 Gaming Act legalizing online betting and 50% of sports bettors being between the ages of 18-34.

Feck said students should be aware of the dangers of gambling.

“If your involvement in sports gambling is getting more intense than the people in your community. When people begin to confront you on that, you could probably deny it, but as time goes on you come to terms with ‘is this getting out of my control or not?’” Feck said.

He continued: For students who want to break their addictive habits, there are ways to cope with those tendencies. “You would want to provide psychoeducation. You would want to help someone to grasp why their compulsive behaviors are there in the first place.”

For Titans fan and MTSU student Houston Chapman, he sees no harm in placing a bet every now and then. “It’s a choice to be responsible when placing bets. If you have the right intentions, you’ll be fine.”

Chapman views online betting as entertainment as opposed to monetarily driven and thinks that it is perfectly fine to place bets as a college student.

According to the Tennessean, since online sports betting became legal in Tennessee sportsbooks have collected $1.1. billion in wagers, making Tennessee the fastest state to surpass $1 billion in online gambling revenue in the nation.

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