June 2, 2023 3 min read


Gambling Problems and Harassment Endanger Student Athletes, UCLA Says

Dr Timothy Fong compared the importance of addressing problem gambling and harassment to the importance of training, nutrition and rest.

Dr Timothy Fong, a member of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program, spoke about the impact of problem gambling on student-athletes during the UNLV Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking. As reported by SBCAmericas, he also talked about how the harassment players receive from bettors can undermine their performance.

Students are considered to be high-risk gamblers. In addition, research shows that athletes are more exposed to gambling problems than other people. As a result, student-athletes, especially in the US where gambling is prevalent, are a very vulnerable demographic.

Fortunately, many recognize this issue and try to take action. Fong cited the program at Towson University that seeks to protect student-athletes from gambling and gambling-related harm. The program includes ways to identify potential gamblers and help them deal with their problems.

Echoing New Jersey’s recent decision to help young gamblers instead of punishing them, the University of California seeks to treat players instead of scrutinizing and suspending them.

We assess them, we treat them, and we get them to continue to be able to train and not sent home.

Dr Timothy Fong, director of sports psychiatry services, UCLA

Another problem that athletes all over the world face is harassment, which is oftentimes fostered by the discontentment of sports bettors who didn’t get their way. Harassment can happen both online and in the real world and can have a devastating traumatizing effect on young players.

Student-athletes would develop anxiety because of all the negative comments, which would affect their in-game performance as they would constantly worry. Dealing with this issue can become as important as training, eating properly and resting, Fong argued.

Suddenly, sports betting becomes a training issue. Just like cardio, strength training, sleep, nutrition, it becomes embedded as part of the athlete’s experience.

Dr Timothy Fong, director of sports psychiatry services, UCLA

Unfortunately, the growth of sports betting in the US has exacerbated the issue, with more harassment now circulating in the online space than ever before. The legalization of wagering in new markets has led to a sharp increase in harassment against athletes.

Some comments would simply say mean things about players but in certain cases, angry bettors may threaten the lives of athletes. Sometimes, the authorities would intervene and take offenders to court. Unfortunately, however, many harassers go unpunished.

The worst thing is that there is still not enough clear data about the issue and its prevalence. The exact number of affected athletes is also unknown, since no sufficient research has been done and since not all players like to comment on the matter.

Fong concluded that he hopes stakeholders will do something to address the issue.


Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at GamblingNews.com is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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