August 21, 2023 3 min read


Researchers Investigate Why Athletes Engage in Gambling despite the Significant Risk

Several organizations provided insight into the motivating factors behind the most recent spike in athlete gambling-related violations

The combined results revealed a complex interplay between competitiveness, wagering tendencies, and the allure of sports gambling. While self-confidence remains a crucial factor for success, it can make players across all sports more susceptible to engaging in sports betting. Iowa’s recent gambling scandal highlights the need for more robust education and prevention efforts to prevent similar future occurrences.

The Temptation Can Often Prove Irresistible

USA’s National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) recently looked into the rise in athlete gambling violations, attempting to extract valuable insights to prevent similar occurrences. The ongoing Iowa football player wagering controversy highlighted how easily accessible sports wagering could create endemic issues and undermine sports integrity on a frightening scale.

NCPG executive director Keith Whyte delved into the psychology behind these violations, noting that controlling the outcome of a game was rarely a player’s primary motivation. Athletes often believed they could predict the result of a game due to their skills and knowledge. However, such actions placed them on a slippery slope that could lead to match manipulation.

Much of the psychology of gambling… revolves around knowledge of the game and belief in your own skill. The closer you are to the action, the more likely it is you may think that bet is a sure thing.

Keith Whyte, NCPG executive director 

Associate professor at Illinois State Cindy Kerber confirmed the NCPG’s conclusions. Her research into gambling and other addictions revealed that athletes’ intrinsic drive to demonstrate superior skills and knowledge could often cause them to seek unnecessary risks. She recommended more open discourse and a concerted effort by all stakeholders.

A Working Solution Requires a Comprehensive Approach

These ongoing issues have highlighted the importance of education and awareness campaigns aimed at athletes, coaches, and sports organizations. By providing information about the potential consequences of gambling on their own games, these initiatives can help athletes make informed decisions and resist the temptation to engage in such behaviors.

The recently overhauled NCAA betting violation punishments also represent a significant step in the right direction. The league’s new approach punishes violations proportionately to the illegal wager amount and forces offending athletes to complete a mandatory educational program. Student-athletes who have bet on their own sports may lose 50% of their season eligibility while wagering on a game they played in can cost them a permanent ban.

As the Iowa gambling scandal unravels, it highlights the importance of enhanced monitoring and reporting mechanisms. Stakeholders must unite behind a common cause and create an environment where athletes are well-informed, supported, and empowered to make responsible choices that prioritize the integrity of the game.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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