Risky business: The effects of gambling at OHS


Preston Meier

Seniors Connor Ginskey and Caleb Vereide discuss player props on sports betting apps. According to the survey, sports betting is the most popular form of gambling at OHS.

Preston Meier, Writer

A split second decision has the ability to win or lose an unwarranted amount of money — that is the power gambling holds. When high school seniors turn 18, they are introduced to many new responsibilities. They become a legal adult, gain the right to vote, have the ability to join the military and are legally allowed to gamble in Minnesota. Many teens are thrilled to exercise their newly acquired rights, most notably – gambling. 

Gambling takes on many different shapes, forms and sizes. Having the ability to bet as low as a penny or all the way up to millions of dollars, gives the opportunity for anyone 18 years and older to partake with little financial restraint. There are also various forms of gambling such as casino gambling (slots, blackjack, roulette), scratch offs, lottery or sports betting that reach out to a very diverse population.

Wagering around the nation

According to earthweb, 85 percent of Americans have gambled at least once in their life and 60 percent have gambled in the last year. The most popular forms of gambling in the past year have geared towards the online or virtual side such as online casinos, sports betting and the lottery. In Minnesota, the age restriction is only 18 years of age to gamble in any form, meaning many high school students are able to gamble on their own. This is something that can be seen as a fun way to get a thrill or go out with friends, but with young adults it is also a big risk financially. With that risk, comes the ability to make money back, which is another factor that draws people in and could lead them down a path of addiction.

Odds at OHS

Among seniors at OHS, gambling has been gaining traction, and there is more talk about it on a daily basis. According to a survey sent out on Tuesday, April 19 to OHS seniors, 22 out of 30 respondents said they gamble at least once every year. Out of those 22, three partake in some form of gambling every day and seven partake weekly. In the minority was the eight out of 30 respondents that stated they never gamble. Senior Eli Spurgeon was one of those eight and he said, “I don’t like to gamble because you can lose a lot of money quickly.” The financial worry was a commonality shared between many that said they do not gamble.

For students that do gamble at OHS, 39 percent said their main form of gambling was sports betting and an additional 39 percent said they prefer gambling in a casino such as Mystic Lake or Treasure Island. This was followed by scratch off tickets at 17.5 percent and online gambling at four and a half percent. A majority of the seniors expressed that they gamble because it is an enjoyable thing to do with their friends. Others stated that it provides excitement or is a quick way to make money. Senior Caleb Veriede said, “I like to bet on sports games to make them more interesting.”  

The most common monthly expense was in the range of $20-50, which received 10 responses. Some alarming numbers include three respondents saying they fall in the $200-500 spending range and two respondents stating they spend over $500 a month on gambling alone.

Legalization of sports betting

Due to the reliance on online gambling in the past year, sports betting has exploded on apps such as the Barstool Sportsbook, FanDuel and DraftKings. There was an 80 percent increase nationally in sports betting from Jan. 2021 to Dec. 2021. Betting on sports is still illegal in Minnesota, but a bill that would legalize sports betting is gaining traction in the state legislature as it passed the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 24. This would only allow sports betting in tribal casinos and give tribes the opportunity to partner with companies for online betting. According to Minnesota state representative Zach Stephenson, this would be the biggest change to Minnesota gambling laws in 40 years.  

Although betting on outcomes of sporting events is illegal in Minnesota, it is still one of the most popular forms of gambling at OHS. This is because of the ability to bet on player props on apps such as Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks. Player props focus on a certain player’s outcome rather than the whole team. Those props are then put into a parlay – a series of picks (typically two to five) that multiply the bet with each additional pick. 

Many students enjoy the intensity that sports betting brings while watching the games. An avid sports bettor, senior Connor Ginskey said, “I bet on sports that I enjoy and know a lot about to test my knowledge and just make the game more interesting.” The interest of gambling on sports is being shared throughout the school and discussions about the best picks for certain games are a common occurrence. Vereide said, “I got into sports betting because some of my friends were doing it.” With the popularity of sports betting increasing in the world, the same effect has been seen inside of OHS.

I bet on sports that I enjoy and know a lot about to test my knowledge and just make the game more interesting.”

— Connor Ginskey

Gambling with the future of teens

According to Mayo Clinic, compulsive gambling is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite what it does to someone’s life. This means that someone is willing to risk something of value seeking to gain something greater in return. During high school, teens are able to get their first taste of gambling and approximately every one in 25 teens develop a gambling addiction. This addiction can start before the legal gambling age is even reached. It can begin with watching adult poker games, scratching off a ticket purchased by an adult or by playing video games that contain casino-like activities.

To spot someone that is dealing with gambling addiction, some warning signs include: always trying to get more gambling money, the need to gamble more money to get the same thrill, trying to gain lost money by gambling more and jeopardizing important things in favor of gambling. For additional help with gambling addiction, visit ncpgambling.org or call the hotline number 1-800-522-4700.