Buzzer beating the system: betting from students

Sophia Boddy ’25

Sports betting is the process of predicting the results of sporting events and wagering money on these predictions. In Michigan, the legal age to sports gamble is 18, but high schoolers find many ways to get around this limitation. Grosse Pointe Farms police officer, John Ross, sees sports betting in his day to day life, and understands how it works and the dangers associated with it.
“Sports betting can all be done through an app that verifies you’re a real human after you put all of your personal information in,” Ross said. “You can deposit money into the app from your bank account and choose how much money in the app you want to bet.”

A lot of different aspects go into the addictiveness of sports gambling. AP Psychology teacher, Laura Distelrath, believes a majority of the craze over gambling is mental.

“When our basic needs are met, like food, water, clothing and sleep, we become curious about what else is around us and look for other things to explore, like gambling,” Distelrath said.

Young people often are victims of making poor decisions while gambling, considering their brains are not yet completely developed. This causes kids to make more foolish decisions when they’re young, compared to when they’re older and their brains are further developed.

“The frontal lobe of your brain deals with decision making and is not fully developed until around age 25,” Distelrath said. “Younger kids are more likely to make poor decisions and fall into addictive habits like gambling if they start before their brain is fully developed.”

Students who are not yet at the legal age of 18 debate whether they should begin sports betting when able to or not. Younger students with older friends are more likely to be exposed to betting, piquing their interest in the matter.

“I’m not old enough to sports gamble but if I was of age I probably would,” Michael Sullivan ’25 said. “I wouldn’t do it to the point where I was betting my life savings on games, but in reasonable amounts.”

Many consequences follow gambling, and gamblers can get in trouble with the law. The legal gambling age is 18 in Michigan, and the consequences following illegal sports betting are not to be taken lightly. Officer discussed the serious consequences students can face if found illegally gambling.

“Any type of legal interaction will affect you as a high school student, anytime you really get in trouble with the police, the school basically finds out about it,” Officer Ross said. “If the school deems that you’re either a student threat or a distraction to the school, there’s a lot of different things in your student code of conduct and the school could deem that they wouldn’t want you to be walking the hallways here.”

For students who do gamble, they might not always take into account the seriousness of their actions. The charges of pursuing underage gambling is just one part, but the amount of money made from gambling can increase the seriousness of the person’s consequences.

Sophia Boddy ’25

“The amount of money made by gambling is attributed to your penalty, so the more money the more severe the punishment the fraud would be,” Officer Ross said. “People do little fraud things every day and we get little fraud calls. And then you also get the big fraud cases where people are investing millions of dollars and that’s not necessarily the same thing, but it’s relatively similar.”

Sports betting is seen as a way to make games interesting and more fun, but another reason it is so common among young people is easy accessibility. Today it is easy as ever to download apps and plug in information and lose money fast.

“It’s too easy to access,” Ross said. “Now there is even online casino betting where you can lose money just by pressing a button on your phone. The next thing you know you’ve lost your entire life savings.”

Other related online sports games, like fantasy football, are common among those who gamble as well. You can play Fantasy Football for money or for free, and is popular across all age groups. Oftentimes, players will put down a certain amount of money and whoever wins at the end of the season gets the prize.

“If someone places sports bets, I guarantee you they probably do fantasy football too, they go hand in hand,” said Ross. “The more you know about Fantasy Football, the more a person might know about betting odds, which ultimately fuels that addiction aspect.”

Aside from being illegal and addictive, gambling as a young student is not only risky for your own future, but for your family as well.

“If you are a high school kid or a college kid, you don’t have the money to spend or if you’re spending your parents money or using money from a job. If you’re just throwing away that money, what even is the point of having a job?” Ross said. “The last thing you want to do is start getting rid of the money that your parents are giving you for books, classes or food for you to live on campus or wherever it may be.”

As for adults who are legally allowed to gamble ,the activity still holds even more consequences as you get older. Once adults start gambling, it becomes hard to stop, putting their savings, families and even their lives on the line.

“Gambling has become such an issue, it results in suicide, people ruin their families and get divorced,” Ross said. “Families are falling apart often because people bet on sports and gamble and eventually become very addicted.”

Officer Jon Ross urges students to do their research before starting to bet on sports, and of course, wait until you are of age to do so.

“If that’s something that somebody is interested in, they should look at the bad stories first,” Ross said. “They should check out how much money people have lost very easily and quickly.”