Wagering among male athletes is down nearly 10 percent from 2008, though concerns remain over the increased use of social media and technology for betting, according to the latest NCAA report on gambling.
The NCAA released the findings Tuesday, saying its study found that 57 percent of men reported they gambled for money in 2012, a drop of 9 percent from four years earlier.
Gambling among men who play Division I sports fell from 58 percent to 50 percent from 2008 to 2012. Similar decreases were reported in Division II and III, while female athletes stayed steady at 39 percent. The survey of nearly 23,000 athletes is administered every four years.
"The decrease in the rate of gambling among male student-athletes is encouraging," said Rachel Newman Baker, the NCAA managing director of enforcement. "However, the explosive growth of sports wagering has caused a noticeable increase in the number and severity of sports wagering cases investigated by the NCAA."
The study also indicates that technology has made it much easier to gamble, and that the overall culture of gambling has become much more pervasive.
"The days of the student bookie with paper betting slips is gone," said NCAA principal researcher Tom Paskus, the primary author of the survey. "There are a lot of technology issues that campus administrators and others may not be familiar with. Gambling just looks different today that it did even eight years ago when we first conducted the study."
The percentage of men who reported placing bets online or through their phone jumped from 26.3 percent to 33.7 percent over the past four years. Roughly one-third of all men said in the 2012 study that they first gambled before high school, also a bump of 7 percent.
It also appears that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have made it easier for outsiders to contact athletes in search of inside information. But the number of athletes providing such details has remained essentially unchanged since 2008.
Just 0.8 percent of men's basketball players and 0.3 percent of football players said they have given details beneficial to gamblers, numbers slightly reduced over the past four years. The one sport that the NCAA said remains problematic is men's golf.
The study found the male golfers are "significantly" more likely to gamble than their peers. Seven percent of male golfers said they've bet on their own team, while about 3 percent of men's basketball and football players reported doing the same, the study found.
"It does seem to speak to some cultural issues in that sport that go beyond socio-economic status," Paskus said.
The study also reported that betting is much more pervasive among Division II and III athletes, which it said is likely fueled in part by the perception that NCAA rules against gambling are solely targeted at Division I.