Grant will allow ongoing research into high school sports betting to expand nationally

A new study aims to discover extent of sports wagering among high school athletes nationwide.

A new study aims to discover extent of sports wagering among high school athletes nationwide.

A pair of Troy University professors in the Sorrell College of Business could help curb sports wagering and point shaving among high school athletes nationwide.

Dr. Robert Mathner
Dr. Robert Mathner

Dr. Robert P. Mathner and Dr. Christina L. Martin, both professors in School of Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management, will expand their regional research nationwide thanks to a grant from the International Center for Gaming Regulation.

“Extending Sports Wagering Studies Outside of the NCAA Student-Athlete Population: High School Athletes Gambling and Sport Wagering Behaviors” will further a 2019-2021 study that found 46.4 percent of high school males admitted to wagering on sports in the previous year in three southeastern states. The regional study also found that 38.9 percent of high school athletes wagered on sports at a higher rate than previous studies when adolescents were surveyed.

“The proposed study and its results can affect change in gambling environments and will be used by national governing bodies as well as state high school athletics associations to further educate their administrators, coaches and athletes on the perils and pitfalls of illegal sport wagering and point shaving,” Mathner said.

“It will also raise awareness to the issue that high school athletes are participating in sport wagering, how that involvement potentially threatens the integrity of high school athletic contests and what the long-term repercussions of the behavior and its potential impact on the mental health of high school athletes,” he said.

While the regional study confirmed past studies as it is related to when high school students started gambling, Mathner said the most alarming result was the number of students who were approached and contacted by outside sources to share confidential information regarding their teammates, as well as the number who were asked by teammates to influence the outcome of a game.

Nearly 5 percent of survey respondents knew of a teammate who accepted money for playing poorly and 7 percent acknowledged that they accepted money or other rewards for playing poorly in a game.

The findings were presented by Mathner and Martin, who directs TROY’s HTSM program, at the 2022 North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) annual conference in Atlanta.

“Current research indicates that adolescents possess personality characteristics that may result in higher risks for becoming problem gamblers, and few studies have focused on groups outside of collegiate student-athletes gambling and sport wagering. The high school population is understudied and merits further examination,” Mathner said.