College students, like the rest of the population, are not immune to problem gambling. In fact, approximately 6 percent of U.S. college students have a serious gambling problem according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Therefore, it makes sense to identify ways to raise awareness about problem gambling to this population and to determine age-appropriate ways to penetrate this audience. To gain a baseline understanding of college students’ behaviors and attitudes regarding gambling, and of problem gambling as an issue, 442 college students from Gustavus Adolphus College and Bemidji State University were surveyed. The research consisted of online surveys and 17 interviews.

Here are some significant findings:

Gambling Behavior. Students were motivated to gamble for fun (social), excitement and to win money. Most were aware of the possible harms of gambling. Students who had lost large amounts of money gambling admitted to being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs while gambling.

Preferences for Obtaining Gambling-Related Information. The majority of students prefer to receive information online through websites or social media. Most prefer video and picture content. The majority of students felt that facts, testimonials and practices to alleviate the desire to gamble would be most helpful.

The survey suggests a variety of ways to connect with the college student audience. This includes providing budgeting and money-tracking tips, sharing stories, offering digital self-assessments and providing online support.

In the coming months, the Minnesota Problem Gambling Program (as part of the Minnesota Department of Human Services) will create a campaign to reach college students. Details of the evolving campaign will be shared by Northstar as the campaign is developed.