Students and Sports Betting


Courtesy of Julia Stanisci

The sports betting craze has hit Villanova.

Elena Rouse

When the students on campus start biting their nails and habitually checking their phone notifications to check the scores of sports games, it can only mean one thing. While some may do it for the love of a particular team, more and more students, along with the rest of the country, have gotten swept up in the business of sports betting.

It is safe to say that the stakes for many college sports spectators have risen as more have started to put their own money on professional sports games. The world of professional sports in connection to its fans has never been so interactive.

The online sports betting craze has swept the nation. The addictive highs of guessing a team’s success, its accessibility and competitive connotations gives sports betting an edge. In fact, in recent years, sports betting has gotten so popular that participants have expanded their wagering, putting money on more than just the National Football League.

It definitely expands beyond just football,” an anonymous Villanovan said. “Depending on what site you use, someone can bet on anything from who will score first in a baseball game to the winner of a Russian volleyball game halfway across the world. The possibilities of things to bet on are almost limitless in this day and age.”

 Sports betting has become so ingrained in student culture that many groups have student bookies to manage and deal out pay for bets made on games. Many college students, Villanovans included, take to online platforms to participate in this cultural phenomenon.

DraftKings is probably the most popular sports betting app nationwide,” one student said. “But over the last year or so, Barstool has partnered with Penn National and the Barstool Sportsbook has become very popular in states where it is available.”

Penn National is an in-person and online sports betting platform that Barstool sold a 36% stake to last year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Dave Portnoy, the founder of the popular sports and media company Barstool Sports, is the face of this sports gambling franchise, and can often be seen on his social media platforms promoting sports betting. His franchise is very popular with college aged students.

The legality of sports betting remains dependent on the decision of the state, as of New Jersey’s Supreme Court victory in May 2018. While Pennsylvania has legalized sports betting both in person and online, in states like Texas, sports betting is still illegal unless one participates in another state’s online platform.

When asked why he participates in sports betting, another anonymous Villanovan explained his thought process.

“From a young age, I have always been invested in sports, whether that be playing on the field or being an active fan,” the student said. “Now as I’ve gotten older, I have wanted to take my years of experience watching sports and being within the lines to now test my luck and try to make some profitable gains.” 

However, the gains of which he spoke are not always the outcome.

 “Yes, there are times when my friends win large amounts of money on huge upset picks or multiple team parlays,” one Villanovan said. “However, I have also seen them lose large amounts of money doing the exact same thing.”

With such uncertainty regarding the outcome of all these sports events, plus the often limited budgets of college students, one wonders about the appeal of online sports betting for these Villanovans and other college students. However, as one Villanovan explains, the experience is unparalleled.

“The draw of sports betting comes down to a person thinking that they know better than the rest of America,” the student said. “My dad always says that the people who make the point spread in this country should run it, because they somehow always end up being right.”

However, even this avid participant understood his limits.

“Sometimes your own knowledge can be enough to win some money but in most cases, the odds are never in your favor.”

Even so, this new hobby continues to steal the attention, excitement, time and, of course, the money of people across the country.