Why are so many students becoming addicted to gambling?

Student gambling is more popular than ever. We tell you why.

We’ve all heard the story.

The named fixture varies, but it’s usually Angola-Mali in the African Cup of Nations back in January 2010. Angola go 4-0 up, and some bright undergraduate sees some chance to make some drinking money.

He sticks his entire student loan on an Angola win at 1/100.

Angola promptly proceed to choke in spectacular fashion, and the game ends 4-4. Everyone has a good laugh, except for the student, who is reduced to a diet of Tesco Value Dust and McDonalds coffee stirrers.

These will now have to last you until 2016.

Gambling is an integral part of student life. There are entire feeds, articles, websites dedicated to student betting and it’s got to the point where Ladbrokes even allow you to bet on your degree class.

Not everyone gambles, but everyone knows a gambler. He might be that guy who constantly clogs up your Facebook feed with posts from ‘TOP ACCIES GUARANTEED PROFIT #BEATTHEBOOKIES #DENCH’.

He might be the bloke who starts every conversation with an account of his latest in-play Peruvian Korfball League win. Or he might just be your best mate who likes to put a fiver when United are on telly.

Why do people do it? Everyone has different reasons, but there are a few common themes. The primary one is that every gambler thinks they can beat the system.

“So, you see, if you run all the figures and remember to carry the 2, the Sunderland-Genoa-Tivoli Gardens accie is definitely coming off.”

Every uni student has a quiet sense of entitlement, be they an Oxbridge prodigy or a clearing entry at UEL.

“I’m at university. I’m an academic. I’m smarter than most people, and I can outwit the bookies.”

They know that the house always wins overall, but if 40% of people are in the green and 60% are in the red, well, they can be in that top 40%, can’t they?

More people don’t go to university than do. Surely they can do it.

By your third year, that vague sense of superiority is all you’ll have left to cling to.

This has only been intensified by the phenomenon of match betting.

With the plethora of free bet offers available (usually as sign-up bonuses), people have figured out that if you combine them in the right way, you can bet on one outcome with one bookie and then use a free bet with another on the opposite outcome – you make a profit either way.

There’s always complications, of course –  getting your money out after the bet is a common one. They’re betting companies, not charities; there’s an ulterior motive.

But it’s a clear case of how you can play the system, and that’s attractive.

Of course, even if you’re in the black, it’s not ‘free money’ – if you have a system that works, it will have required a significant investment of your time. It’s like a job.

Appropriate, then, that it can often effectively serve the same purpose. According to a recent survey, 1 in 5 students gamble to supplement their student loan.

How else were you going to afford life’s essentials?

It makes sense. Gambling has no fixed hours, no real barriers to entry, and no social element. It’s much more convenient than working 3am to 6am at some terrible bar 30 miles away.

Plus, you’re away from your parents now. They don’t have to know how you’re getting your money, as long as you get it.

We’ve been talking business for the most part so far. Let’s talk pleasure. Gambling is exciting; it get your heart racing.

Picture the scene: you’re watching Crystal Palace-Stoke with your mates. You don’t care about either of these teams. The game itself is unspectacular. You don’t really care. You’re gonna watch it anyway, because hey, it’s Sunday afternoon and you’ve got nothing better to do.

I know a couple of club promoters who regularly wager £50 against each other on FIFA. That money’s putting one of them through uni.

But stick a fiver on it, and you definitely care. Your heart is pumping. It skips a beat every time there’s a shot on goal. It’s all about the adrenaline.

Some people race cars on cliff edges. You’ve got money on over 7 corners in Aston Villa-Chelsea.

The student lifestyle doesn’t force people to gamble. What it does do is provide a million and one different reasons to gamble.

You’ve got mounds of free time, a bank balance that is typically neither substantial nor totally insubstantial (at least, before you start betting), and the temptation of earning cash while rebelling against a system – the system – in the process.

“I could be playing online poker right now.”

Gambling is part of student life. But we shouldn’t forget that it’s also part of life in general in the UK.

According to the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey, 73% of adults had gambled in one form or another in the past year;  even when you strip out lottery participants, the figure was still 56% (up from 48% in 2007).

That’s probably the fundamental reason that student betting isn’t going away – it’s not just attractive to students. The student lifestyle just makes it easier to get sucked in.