University of New Hampshire (UNH) sophomore business administration major Spencer Burgess gambles almost every day.
“I know a guy who’s lost $1,300 in a day,” he said.
Sports gambling was legalized in New Hampshire earlier this year and the culture of betting is fast growing on the UNH campus. Over $2 million was legally bet on the Super Bowl in New Hampshire with over 34,000 users registered with DraftKings, the online sports betting company that the state of New Hampshire has a contract with.
Sophomore finance major Tejun Celestin said he started betting on sports on Jan. 4 when the Patriots lost to the Titans. Since then he’s bet on sports every day but one.
Burgess said “gambling content” he watched online at places like Barstool Sports piqued his interest. Celestin said he joined in when he saw all the money Burgess was making.
“He kept texting me about how up he went,” Celestin said.
Burgess is up nearly $500 from his wagers but not everyone shares his luck. JD Standish, a sophomore finance and entrepreneurial studies major, said he’s only made $5 in two weeks of gambling and Burgess has a friend who has lost and made thousands of dollars in as little as two days.
Burgess, Celestin and Standish all place their bets online using DraftKings. The deal between DraftKings and New Hampshire will split revenue down the middle according to the New Hampshire Lottery. The New Hampshire Lottery profits are earmarked for state education funding. Betting on New Hampshire college sports teams, or any college sport team playing within the state is banned.
According to a national poll conducted by Seton Hall University in Oct. 2019, 80 percent of Americans support legalized sports gambling. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed support the state-by-state legalization currently in place with the additional 25 percent being those who support nationwide legalization. Over a third of those asked, 37 percent, who want national legalization were aged 18 to 29. Sixty-nine percent of that same age bracket favored the freedom to bet on college and professional sports. More than half want betting on in state college sports to be legalized.
Burgess said he didn’t care enough if it was legal to bet on UNH teams, but that a friend of his “knows people on the [basket]ball team and said he’d like to bet player props because he knows them.” A prop bet is a specific kind of bet that you can make on a single player or team stat.
Professor Michael McCann, a lawyer, journalist for Sports Illustrated and director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the UNH School of Law believes these kinds of prop bets are one of the reasons for the rule against in-state school betting.
“College athletes aren’t paid… the thinking is that if there were going to be athletes that take bribes it would most likely occur among athletes that aren’t paid,” McCann said.
McCann said leagues and player unions as well as states and gaming groups, all have vested interests in sports gambling. There is money to be made by all parties as all of these groups get a cut of the profit. None of these groups have overtly targeted college students with advertising and yet many students still gamble. McCann believes there would be a negative public response if such advertising were to occur.
“To the extent that people feel ambivalent about the topic [sports gambling], there could be more backlash if college students were the targeted demographic,” McCann said.
Concerning if this is the future of sports-watching, McCann is unsure.
“I don’t know if it’s as big of an industry as people expect… I think it’s a niche market but it’s a market that in some contexts becomes very popular,” he said. UNH does not have any official gambling policy but does have resources for those struggling with a gambling addiction. Those resources can be found at unh.edu/health/well/financial-wellness/gambling.