Sports gambling at WHS


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In 2018, the New Jersey legislature passed a law legalizing sports betting. According to, New Jersey handled more money from sports gambling in 2020 than any other state. Despite having to be at least 21 years old to legally place a sports bet, the popularity of this form of gambling has made its way to teenagers at WHS and across the county. Although gambling at WHS looks pretty innocent and the stakes of these bets are typically low, this behavior can evolve into a dangerous habit if left untamed.

WHS junior Charles Stock said, “I choose to participate in sports gambling such as fantasy football and NCAA brackets because it makes watching the games more fun and it allows me to always be rooting for someone or some team in each game.” Most students share this sentiment and like to gamble to become part of a community and get invested more deeply in each game.

Most students also tend to spend relatively low amounts of money on these ventures. WHS senior Rob McIntyre said, “I do not gamble a lot of money and I do not gamble very often, so in the worst case I lose $10, maybe $15, once or twice a year which is not the biggest worry to me.”

Fantasy football leagues and betting pools with friends are some of the most common ways that students gamble and though it may not have any immediate negative consequences, it can lead to poor habits in the future. Health Teacher Susan Kolesar warns that although students may have fun gambling now, it can quickly grow into an expensive addiction. “Students might start to borrow money from friends or family, lie, steal or do whatever they need to do to keep feeding their addiction,” said Kolesar.  

This progression is relatively common amongst gambling addicts as well. According to, most gambling issues start at a young age. Most people can control their urge to gamble, however, for a small percentage of gamblers it can progress into a devastating addiction. 

Gambling is also more accessible than ever before with apps like Draft Kings, FanDuel and many online casinos, and it is incredibly convenient to place a sports bet and play games for a chance to win money. For many of these apps, it’s as easy as a teen taking their parent’s credit card and lying about their age to play.

 According to, due to having to stay indoors more because of COVID-19 more and more people are getting into online gambling and becoming addicts, and this could be happening to teenagers stuck in their houses during this year of quarantine. 

Perhaps the most dangerous part of gambling addiction is the debt that addicts accumulate. Assistant Principal James DeSarno said, “Underage gambling is scary.  You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into if you get yourself in debt.”

At WHS, gambling is typically left to just fantasy football leagues and bets amongst friends. DeSarno can’t recall any WHS students getting in trouble with the administration for gambling, but he wouldn’t be surprised if gambling did take place. “The problem with illegal gambling is that it’s hard to see. What I do know is that if and when we are made aware or see it, we will act quickly to put a stop to it and discipline if necessary,” said DeSarno. 

Even though fantasy football and March Madness brackets are fun, exciting and a good way to promote comradery, it is important to keep in mind that students should just leave it at that because if they continue to gamble more that’s when real problems can arise.