Colorado And EPIC Educates CSU Student-athletes, Coaches On Gambling

Written By Cole Rush on 08/21/2023 - Last Updated on August 22, 2023
CSU student-athletes and coaches received education last month on gambling.

Last month, Colorado State University student-athletes, coaches, and staff received instruction on gambling prevention in college athletics. The seminars were run by EPIC Risk Management with separate support from the NCAA and Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado.

The sessions come in the midst of various college betting-related issues in the US, including gambling violations at two Iowa universities.

The seminars focused on problem gambling and how to prevent it. The sessions with student-athletes through the NCAA partnership also outlined the NCAA’s rules on gambling, something several college coaches have been calling for.

EPIC uses education to combat problem gambling

EPIC Risk Management is a leader in providing education on responsible gambling. PlayColorado asked Dan Trolaro, VP of prevention in the US, to discuss EPIC’s commitment to reducing problem gambling and educating college students.

Trolaro said there are two key pillars of EPIC’s approach.

“Prevention and education. We want to reduce gambling harm before it becomes a problem.”

In his educational sessions, Trolaro said EPIC blends personal experience with facts.

“We use our lived experience,” he said. “I started my journey of recovery over 13 years ago. Our sessions have people sharing their experiences with students and staff, bringing problem gambling from theoretical to actual.”

The CSU session in particular was sparked by Colorado’s interest in preventing problem gambling at the student level, Trolaro said.

“The state issued grant money to educate students,” Trolero said. “We partnered with the Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado to teach not just student athletes, but anyone who wanted to learn.”

A holistic approach and a safe space

EPIC’s sessions are best presented in-person, Trolaro said.

“We start off by talking about a safe learning environment,” he said. “Addiction and lived experience require a safe space. These topics can be uncomfortable. Thoughts of suicide, going to prison, losing relationships … we don’t want to raise mental health issues.”

Every session begins by establishing a safe space for all involved.

“Next, we discuss the specifics,” Trolaro said. “What makes college-aged individuals more vulnerable to problem gambling? What traits predispose them to these risks? The brain developed through our late 20s, and decision-making is among the last pieces to fall into place. College students want to go-go-go, and we act as a brake pedal.”

Trolaro notes that there’s no blame to be cast. It’s simply how young people are wired.

“We’re working with pure biology,” he added.

Then, add in the elements of the digital age, like smartphones, marketing messages, and the ease of using gambling apps.

“It’s hard to stay away, and we acknowledge that,” Trolaro said.

EPIC education discusses warning signs of gambling addiction

Warning signs and symptoms of gambling addiction are also on the curriculum.

“What are you looking for? What does it mean to have a problem? Gambling addiction is an emotional issue. It can lead to depression, anxiety, impact on performance and other problems.”

Trolaro points out that EPIC is not anti-gambling.

“We see it as entertainment, and that’s how it starts off for so many,” he said. “The point is to humanize it and encourage people to evaluate their relationships with gambling.

Seminars include education on NCAA sports betting rules

Trolero said educating student-athletes on NCAA rules against gambling is part of the instruction.

“We reinforce the rules for student-athletes, too,” he said. “This includes the basics: don’t accept money to sway an outcome, don’t give inside info to friends, etc.”

The converse is also part of the course. EPIC encourages non-athletes to avoid seeking out information from athlete friends.

EPIC’s sessions run about an hour, Trolaro said.

“A good 25 minutes is a personal story about how gambling impacted the instructor,” he added. “The remainder is about education and prevention.”

Education on gambling rules requires context

Trolaro said educating students is vital.

“It’s extremely important for students and staff to understand gambling policies and regulations,” he said. “Underage gambling is a huge concern. Students are playing fantasy, they’re betting on sports.”

However, rules require context, Trolaro said. Otherwise, they can lead to the opposite of the intended outcome.

“Rules without relationships will lead to rebellion,” he said. “They exist to keep you safe, and we have to explain within a context that makes sense and resonates with students’ day-to-day lives.”

Can gambling education resonate like other successful campaigns?

Trolaro brings up designated driver culture in comparison to gambling and wonders if attitudes will evolve.

“There was a cultural change sometime in the recent past,” he said. “Being the designated driver became a good thing, a ‘cool’ decision to keep your friends safe. Will it be cool someday to remind your friends to check their gambling behavior?”

He hopes that day will come. Part of the reason gambling problems are still taboo to discuss is how easy they are to hide, Trolero said.

“Gambling isn’t always on the radar, especially compared to addictions like alcohol or drugs.”

An encouraging response

EPIC has seen an incredible level of positive feedback for its programs, including the CSU seminar, Trolaro said.

“It opens doors and builds connections,” he said. “Students, staff and coaches thank us. They understand gambling problems on a deeper level, and some even rekindle relationships with family or friends who have struggled with gambling addiction.

“The response has been phenomenal.”

A CSU representative echoed those sentiments.

“As interest in sports wagering grows, it’s incredibly important to CSU Athletics that our student-athletes, coaches and staff are educated about the various ways sports wagering impacts their experience and NCAA bylaws. EPIC’s on-campus educational sessions included meetings with our teams, staff and coaches, and the education and real-life experiences shared by both presenters allowed for discussion around this emerging topic.”

Problem gambling resources in Colorado

Colorado has numerous responsible gambling resources and programs, including the Problem Gambling Coalition, which partners with EPIC on its Colorado programs.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, the PGCC can provide assistance and further resources. There are at least two national programs available in Colorado.

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Cole Rush

Cole Rush writes words. A lot of them. Most of those words can be found in gambling publications such as PlayIllinois, iGaming Business, Gaming Today,,, ICE 365, and IGB North America. Cole also covers pop culture and books for and Cole has more than eight years of experience writing about gambling and entertainment.

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