Pennsylvania bets big

More betting apps sees increase of college students placing bets

Published by , Date: November 11, 2021

Three years after Pennsylvania legalized sports betting at casinos and online, millions in tax revenue have been flowing into the state’s general fund.

In just the month of September alone, the sports books across the state recorded $48 million in revenue, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. That revenue was generated by more than $578.7 million in wagers during the same month.

Pennsylvania taxes the gross revenue at 34% and received $9.6 million in September this year. Pennsylvania also collects a 2% tax on the gross revenue that goes to local governments.

Over the past few years, the wagers Pennsylvania casinos have seen made in-person and through online betting apps have increasingly come from younger adults and college students.

A study by the National Center for Responsible Gaming found that 75% of college students had gambled at least once over the period of a year, with sports betting being the most common form of gambling.

While Pennsylvania adults must be at least 21 to place a sports bet, those who are 18 may participate daily fantasy sports (DFS) and in the Pennsylvania Lottery Xpress Sports games.

The two variations of the games simulate sports that are regularly bet on. Derby Cash allows gamblers to bet on virtual horse racing while Xpress Car Racing allows those to pick the winning car in a two-lap race. Both games are played every two minutes.

While the games are completely virtual and not based on any real games or events, they play just like their real-world counterpart in that each horse or car has varying odds of winning which effects their payout.

Along with legalizing sports betting on games, Pennsylvania also allows wagering on DFS games. These games allow players to select a roster of players and compete with others to be the highest scoring team.

Combined, sports betting and DFS brought in nearly $337 million dollars in revenue last year. In Pennsylvania, DFS games are taxed at 15% compared to sports betting.

For students not quite 21, DFS and betting amongst friends in fantasy have their appeal.

Conner Hamilton, a freshman finance major said he got into fantasy football when he joined his dad’s league and won in that first year.

“It’s enjoyable to look at players and build a team,” Hamilton said.

Right now, he is in two fantasy football leagues where each player puts money into a pot in hopes of coming out on top at the end of the regular football season and has started to dabble in DFS games.

Hamilton said he will probably keep playing DFS games through and after college because of the potential payouts but will stay away from betting on sports games because the margins are so low.

While the Slippery Rock University Code of Conduct does not place any restrictions on gambling, those who are student athletes are barred from participating in sports betting on according to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regulations.

Andrea Miller-Grady, assistant athletic director at SRU, said student athletes caught violating the regulation would lose their eligibility to compete.

With so many college students gambling, the National Center for Responsible Gaming found at least 6% of college students have a serious gambling problem that can lead to problems with debt and grades.

At SRU, students who have a gambling problem may seek assistance at the counseling center on campus free of charge according to Dean of Students Karla Fonner.

In Pennsylvania, those who feel they have a serious gambling problem may add their name to an exemptions list with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board that will bar them from casinos and gambling apps in Pennsylvania.

Those suffering from compulsive and problem gambling may also call the state’s gambling addiction 24-hour hotline at 1.800.426.2537.

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Joe is a senior communication major with concentrations in converged journalism and digital media production. This is his second year with The Rocket and first as the news editor. With a penchant for asking tough questions, his byline can be found on more than 100 articles for The Rocket including many breaking news and investigative pieces. During the hours he’s not wearing the hat of student journalist, he spends his time as a husband, father and dog owner in Slippery Rock.


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