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A Risky Bet

Though prohibited, sports wagering finds its niche among college athletes

Gambling on sports doesn’t start in college. Among NCAA athletes who have ever put money on the line, nearly 90 percent of men and 70 of women say they did it for the first time before graduating from high school, NCAA research shows. Wagering, both legal and illegal, on sports in which the NCAA conducts championships is banned by rules intended to protect the integrity of the games and college athletes’ well-being.

Four NCAA wagering studies completed over the past 13 years have consistently shown who is most prone to place a bet. Men wager more than women — 24 percent of male and 5 percent of female student-athletes report gambling on sports in the past year. The issue also is prevalent in Division III, where 32.1 percent of male student-athletes in 2016 reported wagering on sports, compared with 16.5 percent in Division I and 22.8 percent in Division II. In which men’s sport is gambling on sports most common? One has led the pack in each of the four studies completed since 2004 — golf.