Based on experiences at several colleges and universities, the Task Force encourages institutions to establish a campus-wide committee to develop and monitor a comprehensive policy on gambling. To help schools begin the process of establishing such a committee, the ICRG has developed a guide for initiating a dialogue about on-campus gambling policies.
Of course, every campus is different, so it will be important to tailor the toolkit materials to fit your school’s needs. As you review the toolkit materials, you’ll see a number of places to add specific information about your campus’ gambling-related initiatives. Adding detailed information about the initiatives already underway is important as it helps ensure everyone is on the same page about what already is being done to address the issue and lays a solid foundation on which to build future policies and programs.
Higher education has responded vigorously to alcohol-related problems. Nearly all U.S. colleges have policies on student alcohol use, and increased awareness of high rates of “binge drinking” has led to the development of numerous prevention programs. Colleges can work to combat college gambling disorders by integrating gambling education and awareness efforts into existing programs about alcohol, drugs and other risky behaviors.
Currently, many colleges are missing opportunities to inform students about the risks of gambling disorders and to provide recovery-oriented measures. Before implementing new programs to raise awareness of responsible gambling and gambling disorders, administrators should evaluate their current programs and policies on campus by asking these important questions:
Once you’ve answered these questions, the following program ideas can help to begin the process of addressing college gambling on your campus.
The expansion of legalized gambling during the past four decades means that the environment surrounding colleges and universities might include casinos, lottery vendors, or racetracks, in addition to the expansion of online sports wagering. By promoting collaborations between your campus and community that focus on reducing problems with student drinking and gambling, you can help promote responsible behavior. Here are some ways to establish these collaborations.
Schools will find that many of these operators and vendors are willing to cooperate on the enforcement of age restrictions for both drinking and gambling. For example, casinos are highly motivated to prevent minors from gambling and drinking alcohol because of heavy fines imposed by state regulators. Moreover, the growth of responsible gambling campaigns in recent years has made most operators very sensitive to the issue.
Conducting a survey of student behaviors and gambling-related problems can provide useful information on which to base policies that are relevant to the school’s particular situation.
There are several reasons schools should integrate gambling questions into existing surveys. First, this data will provide a baseline for how many students are gambling and how many might have problems on your campus. Second, many schools will not have the resources for a separate gambling survey, and adding gambling questions to existing surveys is a cost-effective alternative. Third, because of the connections between excessive gambling and other risky behaviors and mental health problems, incorporating gambling questions into existing surveys might provide a more illuminating portrait of campus gambling and its relationships with risky behaviors.
To gauge the gambling activities of your students, a survey could ask the following question from the Harvard College Alcohol and Gambling Study:
- Betting on pro sports and college sports online or in person at a sports book
-Betting on horse or dog races
-Betting on the lottery or numbers
-Betting with a bookie
-Playing cards or dice while at school
The following questions from the Brief Bio-Social Gambling Screening (BBGS) can be added to measure problems with gambling.
BBGS Scoring: Answering ‘YES’ to one or more questions indicates that the individual is at increased risk for developing or experiencing gambling-related problems.
Gebauer, L., LaBrie, R., & Shaffer, H. J. (2010). Optimizing DSM-IV-TR classification accuracy: a brief biosocial screen for detecting current gambling disorders among gamblers in the general household population. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 55(2), 82-90.
LaBrie, R. A., Shaffer, H. J., LaPlante, D. A., & Wechsler, H. (2003). Correlates of college student gambling in the United States. Journal of American College Health, 52(2), 53-62.
Promoting campus-wide awareness of (1) gambling disorder as a mental health disorder that has a high rate of comorbidity with alcohol use and other addictive disorders and (2) responsible gambling principles is an important step to reaching college students. Here are a few ways you can educate students on your campus about gambling disorders and responsible gambling:
Student orientations are an easy way to reach a large number of students. In addition to providing information about adjusting to college life, dealing with roommates and alcohol, you can also incorporate gambling and gambling disorders into the discussion. Here are some possible topics to address during the orientation:
You can also distribute educational materials such as brochures and fact sheets in student welcome bags.
Parents play a critical role in students’ adjustment to college, and, therefore, are instrumental in helping young people to be successful in college. If your school provides an orientation for parents, whether in person or online, you can include information about gambling and gambling disorders. Here are some suggested topics to cover:
You can also direct parents to the “parents” section on CollegeGambling.org to learn more.
One way to increase knowledge and awareness of gambling and gambling disorders is to include the topic within appropriate curricula. Here are a few areas of study where information can be incorporated:
Virtually every school provides information about drugs and alcohol on the student health section of its website, but fewer provide information about gambling and gambling disorders. If your school does not include this information on its student health website, consider adding a section or creating a website that discusses the following topics:
Casino and poker events are popular charity events to help raise money for a cause or organization. However, these types of events can sometimes send the wrong message to students about gambling. If your school allows these events, here are some things to consider:
Additionally, make sure your school has policies in place on these types of fundraising events, as well as pools, raffles and other gambling-related fundraiser events.