The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


Stakes raised when high school students partake in sports betting

Watching a sporting event and placing a seemingly innocent bet on a game might seem like a fun, harmless and enjoyable activity, but it could result in ruined relationships, poor financial habits, academic difficulties and a future gambling addiction. 

“Particularly for young people, basically any part of your life could be affected [by gambling],” said Dr. Timothy Fong, co-director of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program. “Sleep can beaffected because you’re so stressed out. You can neglect your self-care, so you’re not paying attention to how you live. You’re not working out, you’re not eating because you’re too preoccupied with gambling [and] preoccupied with trying to cover up your gambling.”

The biggest risk factor for people to become addicted to gambling is when they do it often and start at a young age, specifically14-18 year-olds because they tend to have more access to real money, Fong said. 

“Sports bets are constantly available and refreshing, not just every day, but every hour,” said Fong. “Then you start to think maybe I’ll just keep [placing] one more, maybe I’ll hit that same game parlay and then eventually all my financial problems will go away. Occasionally, you will win, but it doesn’t solve the problem because ultimately, if you keep placing bets, more problems keep going.”

Types of betting

Sports betting is the act of placing a bet or wager on an outcome of a sporting event. 

“There’s effectively two kinds of wagers that can be made on games,” said Jeffrey Haas, former Senior Vice President for International Strategy at DraftKings. “One [kind of wager] is before an event has started, you end up placing a bet based on the final outcome of the match. The other kind of betting that occurs is in play, so during a match you can end up saying what happens this quarter, this period or this inning to the either score during that period or who scores next.”

Psychological impacts 

There are psychological impacts when high school students participate in sports betting.

Many high school students are oftentimes making decisions without using the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that organizes rational decisions, said Dr. James Whelan, executive director of the Tennessee Institute for Gambling Education and Research. 

“When adolescents start placing bets, they feel confident that they know what they’re doing and they’re knowledgeable,” said Whelan. “But they’re really not ready, cognitively, to balance out what the risks and benefits are.”

Financial consequences

Students can also face long-term financial effects from sports betting, such as overspending and problems with budgeting. 

Those who engage in gambling often have trouble valuing money and understanding the importance of working for money and therefore may acquire poor financial habits in the future, said Rob Bumbaco, licensed clinical social worker. 

Coping strategies 

According to Dr. Hannah Carliner, director in the Research and Evaluation Department at Health Resources in Action, persistent engagement in gambling may develop into issues for individuals seeking ways to cope with stress or mental health concerns. 

A study by HelplineIL in 2021, with the help of Health Resources in Action, concluded that Illinois young adults aged 18 years old to 24 years old were the most likely to say they would not seek help for a gambling problem.

Younger and younger people tend to be engaging in sports betting due to its accessibility.

  “There’s so many different ways to bet on things now,” said Bumbaco. “There’s so many different platforms to do it on. It’s just pretty widespread.”

There are many different resources and treatments for people struggling with excessive gambling. 

“Oftentimes, when somebody has a gambling problem, they end up hiding it, lying, stealing money, oftentimes from the very people who care for them the most,” said Whelan. “So how does somebodybecome aware of it? I think that awareness comes from other people expressing concern, or the fact that a person realizes that they’ve been not just expending their discretionary dollars, but that they are spending a lot more.” 

Resources for gambling

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that can be used to treat gambling. The therapy uses people’s thoughts, behaviors and feelings to help them understand what they are doing, why they are gambling and how they are going to stop doing it. 

“Try to find other ways to deal with stress and tough things that you’re going through,” said Carliner. “Establish those healthy coping strategies now, and that will help you for the rest of your life.”

According to Whelan, those who are concerned they might have a gambling problem can reach out to 1-800-GAMBLER to confidentially acquire information about where they can get help in their area.

An additional resource available to those concerned that they may have a gambling problem is to text “ILGamb” to 833234 for free, anonymous support.

“The critical thing for a teen to think about is to talk to a trusted adult,” said Whelan. “Someone who they feel they can talk to and confide in, and that is the number one thing to do. Having someone listen to you helps you think through something [and] helps you make choices of what needs to happen.”

About the Contributors
Rana Khan, Features Editor, Executive Copy Editor
Rana Khan (‘24) is a Features Editor and Executive Copy Editor and has been a member of Torch since her sophomore year. Previous positions: Staff Writer (21-22), Features Editor (22-23), Copy Editor (22-23).
Chris Andreou, Sports Editor, Executive Advertising Editor
Chris Andreou (‘24) is a Sports Editor and Executive Advertising Editor and has been a member of Torch since his sophomore year. Previous positions: Staff Writer (21-22), Sports Editor (22-23), Advertising Editor (22-23).
Nikhil Mitra, Sports Editor
Nikhil Mitra (‘25) is a Sports Editor and has been a member of Torch since his sophomore year. Previous positions: Staff Writer (22-23).