News Release

Double trouble: the risks of mixing alcohol and sports wagering

UNLV study finds binge drinking is disproportionately more common among sports bettors than non-gamblers or those who don't wager on sports

Peer-Reviewed Publication

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Casino sportsbook TV screens showing basketball games


UNLV psychology professor and addictions expert Shane W. Kraus partnered on research into the links between sports gambling and binge drinking.

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Credit: Becca Schwartz/UNLV

It turns out that money isn’t the only thing sports gamblers are risking. According to a new study, bettors who wager on sporting events, esports, and daily fantasy sports are much more likely than other individuals to binge drink.

The findings, compiled by a research team from UNLV and the University of New Mexico, were published this week in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Over the course of three weeks in spring 2022, researchers surveyed more than 4,300 adults across the U.S. Nearly 3,300 self-reported past year alcohol use, while about 1,800 identified themselves as gamblers who had bet on sports in the past year.

Researchers found that sports gamblers were 1.9 times more likely to report consuming an excess of alcohol — defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women at a single time — when compared with nongamblers and gamblers who don't bet on sports. 

The study bolsters previous research into the association between substance misuse and sports wagering. Sports gamblers often use substances while gambling and tend to be more inclined toward risk taking, which researchers fear may also translate to bettors’ alcohol habits.

“Our study suggests that sports bettors appear to use alcohol in particularly risky ways," said study co-author Shane W. Kraus, a professor of psychology who serves as director of the UNLV Behavioral Addictions Lab. "Therefore, more education is needed to inform people around the possible risks of heavy alcohol use while also wagering on sports."

About the study

Binge Drinking Among Sports Gamblers,” by Joshua B. Grubbs of the University of New Mexico and Shane W. Kraus of UNLV, was published April 1, 2024 in JAMA Network Open.

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