Gambling Addiction


Patrick Chester

Patrick Chester, a program facilitator for Epic Global Solutions

Sports Betting Awareness and Addiction

Bluffton University’s Virtue-Driven Athletics program welcomed Patrick Chester, a program facilitator for Epic Global Solutions, to campus on Monday, March 25, to help Bluffton student-athletes gain better awareness of sports betting and recognize the signs of gambling addiction.

Chester referred to gambling addiction as the silent addiction because the outward effects can be easy to mask. He also shared his story as a gambling addict which started during his college years. 

“Eighteen to 22-year-olds, that’s the age group where a lot of this begins. The earlier we can get in front of them, the more knowledge they’ll have going forward and be better prepared down the road,” said Chester. “Student-athletes are in a more vulnerable position for this addiction because of their competitive nature.” 

Chester explained that athletes are six times more likely to engage in problematic gambling behavior and the risk of gambling addiction more than doubles for young adults in a college setting. Prior to Jan. 2023, sports betting was illegal in the state, but Ohio is now one of 38 states where it has been legalized.  

“It’s becoming a huge issue. Sports betting started to be legalized in the United States about five or six years ago, and we just threw it at society with no education. We’re seeing the effects of that now,” said Chester. “We’ve used the UK as a case study for us because they’ve been betting legally on sports for a lot longer, and we are seeing the devastating effects on their young people as they grow up.” 

Chester warned that the suicide rate is 20 times higher for someone with a gambling addiction, and that he too had planned to kill himself during the depths of his addiction. However, a friend recognized something was wrong and aided Chester in seeking help.  

Warning signs Chester shared with students include not paying bills on time, spending more money than you have, and changes in your mental health.  

Virtue-Driven Athletics events like this are held throughout the year. James Grandey, athletic director, chooses event themes based on the needs of the campus community. 

“We know sports betting is a hot-button issue across the country today,” explained Grandey. “It is important to Bluffton Athletics that we provide educational opportunities in order to support our student-athletes.”

In February, a VDA event addressed Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals, and on April 16, author and podcast host Jamy Bechler will share the message “Success is a Choice” during the annual Athletic Awards Forum.

Bluffton’s Virtue-Driven Athletics program develops young people of character through the experience and process of collegiate athletics. Additional VDA experiences include Athletics Community Day of Service, High-Five Fridays with Bluffton Elementary School and Adopt-a-Family with Allen County Children Services.