ATLANTIC CITY — If Stockton University students are gambling, you’re likely to find them at the slots.
Or at the corner store buying lottery tickets. Or on their phones betting on NFL games.
A voluntary survey released this week by the school’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism, in conjunction with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, sheds some light on the gambling habits of young adults. Five hundred and two students responded online over the spring semester.
The results could prove useful for determining the impact of the school’s proximity to the resort’s casinos.
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“This information is useful in order for the council to address trends to strengthen their prevention and treatment messages,” said Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling.
Women made up 71% of respondents. Sixty-four percent of those who took the survey said they have gambled before, and 21% did so for the first time before the age of 18.
Three percent of respondents said gambling has caused serious problems for them in the past three months. And compared to other respondents, a higher percentage of those who reported gambling-related issues said they started at a younger age and were driven by the possibility of winning a jackpot.
Dr. Jane Bokunewicz, an associate professor at Stockton and the lead researcher on the study, said she was pleased to find that the percentage of students who experienced serious issues due to gambling has remained low in recent years.
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“I was encouraged to see that between 2016 and 2019 the percentage of students who reported having problems with gambling has been quite stable. In 2016, 2.55% of students who gambled reported experiencing problems because of their gambling, and in 2019, 3% of gamblers reported experiencing problems,” Bokunewicz said.
Fifty-two percent have played slots, 43% have played the lottery, 30% have played casino table games and 28% have bet on sports.
Slots and the lottery were more popular among women respondents, and table games and sports betting were more popular among men.
“I was surprised to see that, although a higher percent of women reported gambling on slot machines than men, I expected more of a disparity,” Bokunewicz said. “The higher percentage of men gambling on sports did not surprise me.”
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Dustin Gouker, lead sports analyst at PlayNJ, expressed a similar sentiment about a higher percentage of men betting on sports, noting that “there’s about a 60-40 gender divide” when it comes to sports betting.
Since sports betting was legalized in New Jersey in June 2018, 60% of sports bettors said their gambling behavior has not changed.
Sports bettors reported gambling more frequently than others. Mobile betting was the most popular method, and respondents were most likely to bet on professional football.
Gouker said the popularity of mobile betting over other forms of sports betting makes sense.
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“From the New Jersey perspective, 83% of bets were placed by mobile apps, so that definitely seems accurate,” Gouker said.
Most respondents said they gambled simply for amusement and social interaction.
Stockton conducted a similar survey in 2016 aimed at middle and high school students in South Jersey. It found that 41% of students viewed gambling negatively, while 49% had a neutral view and 9% thought it to be positive.
Thirty-seven percent of participants in the 2016 survey said they had gambled in the past, with 25% of those students noting they had been 16 or younger when they first gambled.
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The survey did not reflect whether the students who answered the questions attended the university’s Galloway Township campus or its newer campus in Atlantic City, which opened in September.
Asked about their attitudes on gambling Thursday by The Press, 11 of 15 students quickly dismissed the idea.
Of those who did admit to placing a bet, none wanted their names to be used.
“I don’t want my mom to see I’ve gambled,” said one student, 24, who said he’s placed several sports bets.
Press intern Salena LeDonne contributed to this report.