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Young Adults and Online Sports Betting

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Depressed teen at computer after losing money gambling.

Step into the exciting world where sports passion meets digital excitement: online sports betting. But here's a startling fact—this captivating trend isn't limited to seasoned adults.

In today's landscape, young adults actively participate in online sports betting, seeking the rush and reward it promises. In Ohio alone, residents placed a staggering $1.11 billion in bets in January, with a whopping $1.09 billion coming from sports betting mobile apps. With the rise of online sports betting, it's crucial to understand the implications. How many young adults are getting caught up in this trend?

This article explores the risks, warning signs, and consequences of young adults' online sports betting engagement. Get ready to embark on a journey of understanding, empowerment, and positive change.

How Many Young Adults Are Engaging in Online Sports Betting?

In the digital landscape of online sports betting, the involvement of young adults is a pressing concern. Despite the legal age for gambling typically ranging from 18 to 21, depending on the state, the numbers speak for themselves. Startling statistics from the National Council on Problem Gambling reveal that between 60% and 80% of high school students admit to having gambled for money within the past year. Yes, you read that right — high schooler.

Delving deeper into these figures, it becomes even more alarming. The same data highlights that 4% to 6% of high schoolers fall into the troubling category of online gambling addiction. The glamor of online sports betting traps young minds, and they risk their well-being and future stability.

These numbers shed light on a pervasive issue that demands our attention. Recognizing the importance of education, awareness, and responsible gambling measures for young adults and their engagement in online sports betting is crucial.

The Dangers of Online Sports Betting for Young Adults

According to a recent European report, professional athletes commonly participate in sports betting, with 57% engaging in such activities within the past year. The study also found that around 8% of these athletes displayed signs of gambling problems, which is approximately three times higher than the prevalence observed in the general population.

Online sports betting poses several risks for young adults, including psychological, social, and financial consequences. Let's explore each of these areas in more detail:

Psychological Risks of Online Sports Betting in Young Adults:


Online sports betting can lead to addiction, as young adults may become excessively engrossed in the activity and develop a compulsion to gamble more frequently and with larger amounts of money. This addiction can negatively impact their mental health and overall well-being.

Depression and Anxiety

Excessive online sports betting can develop or worsen depression and anxiety in young adults. Losing bets or experiencing financial difficulties due to gambling can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness.

Impaired Decision-Making

Engaging in online sports betting may impair a young adult's ability to make rational decisions. The desire to win and the thrill of gambling can override logical thinking, leading to impulsive and risky behavior both within and outside the gambling realm.

Social and Financial Consequences of Online Sports Betting in Young Adults:

Relationship Strain

Online sports betting can strain relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners. Young adults may prioritize gambling over spending quality time with loved ones, leading to conflicts and feelings of neglect.

Isolation and Withdrawal

Excessive gambling can lead to social isolation as young adults may spend more time alone, engrossed in online sports betting. This withdrawal from social activities and support networks can exacerbate loneliness and contribute to mental health issues.

Financial Problems

Online sports betting can quickly lead to financial instability for young adults. The allure of potential winnings may lead to excessive gambling, causing them to accumulate significant debts and financial burdens. This can result in long-term financial struggles like loan defaults, bankruptcy, and a compromised future.

Legal Issues

In certain jurisdictions, online sports betting may be illegal or restricted. Young adults who engage in illicit risk gambling face legal consequences, including fines and even criminal charges, which can have long-lasting implications on their personal and professional lives.

Warning Signs of Excessive Online Sports Betting in Young Adults

Excessive online sports betting can have detrimental effects on young adults. Here are some warning signs that may indicate problematic gambling behavior:

1. Compulsive Behaviors

One of the key warning signs is the development of compulsive behaviors surrounding online sports betting. Young adults may find it difficult to control or stop their gambling activities, even when they want to. They may feel a strong urge to place bets, experience restlessness when attempting to cut back, or constantly think about gambling.

2. Neglecting Responsibilities

Excessive online sports betting can lead to the neglect of essential responsibilities. Young adults may prioritize gambling over academic, professional, or personal obligations. They may skip classes, miss work, or neglect important relationships in favor of spending more time on online betting platforms.

3. Loss of Control

Losing control over one's gambling habits is a significant warning sign. Young adults may initially start with small bets but gradually increase the amounts wagered to chase losses or experience the same level of excitement. The inability to set and stick to limits clearly indicates problematic gambling behavior.

4. Tolerance and Withdrawal

Like other addictive behaviors, young adults may develop a tolerance to online sports betting. This means they need to bet larger amounts or place riskier bets to achieve the same level of thrill or satisfaction. Additionally, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, or anxiety when attempting to reduce or stop their gambling activities.

5. Financial Instability

Excessive online sports betting can have severe financial consequences. Young adults may start experiencing significant financial difficulties, including accumulating debt, borrowing money from others, or resorting to desperate measures to finance their gambling habits. Frequent losses and chasing losses can lead to financial instability and hardship.

6. Emotional Distress

Unhealthy gambling habits can take a toll on young adults' emotional well-being. They may experience intense mood swings depending on the outcomes of their bets, ranging from euphoria to despair. Anxiety, stress, and depression related to online sports betting can significantly impact their mental health.

7. Relationship Strain

Excessive online sports betting can strain relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners. Young adults may become secretive about their gambling activities, lie about their losses or wins, or withdraw from social interactions to spend more time betting. This can lead to a breakdown in trust and a sense of isolation.


Hopefully, you will now know the potential risks and warning signs associated with young adults and online sports betting. It's essential to approach this topic with awareness and understanding to protect the well-being of our young adults.

Excessive online sports betting can lead to addiction, financial instability, strained relationships, and emotional distress. Recognizing the warning signs can help identify when gambling habits become problematic. Remember, seeking help and support is vital in addressing these issues.

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