Gambling addiction a growing problem for students

Risking all of his chips on a stone-cold bluff, Nicholas Reinbold, freshman, jumps in the air with excitement.

He stole an $80 pot from a person who got rid of their best hand.

To some people, $80 is a lot of money, but to an experienced poker player like Reinbold, $80 is just building up a bankroll for a chance to win even more.

“Playing poker is just like anything that is challenging,” Reinbold said. “If you put enough time into it; study, practice and concentrate, you are going to be profitable in a game like this.”

Craig Gibson, a freshman who lives in Harshman- Anderson, plays poker like Reinbold, but said he’s not ready to bet $80 on a game.

“I just started playing poker, and I need to be successful for a good amount of time before I can risk that kind of money,” Gibson said. “Poker is dangerous. No matter how good you are, the worst player at the table can get lucky and take all your money.”

According to the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, studies show that college students are 17 percent more prone to have a gambling addiction than any other age group.

Keith White, executive director of the National Council of Problem Gambling, agreed with the studies’ findings.

“Statistics show that 18-24 year olds have the highest rates of gambling rates leading to gambling problems,” he said.

White contributes student’s gambling problems to their desire to take risks and blames the media.

“Besides risk of addiction, kids are more likely to be involved in more risk taking behavior,” he said.

Gambling is also broadcast all over television.

“The World Poker Tour” is aired weekly on the Travel Channel. ESPN covers the World Series of Poker and “The King of Vegas” recently debuted on Spike TV, which is a show about several casino games.

But viewers only see the glory of winning, and don’t realize the losing side of the game.

“It is not surprising that given all the saturation coverage of gambling in the media and increase legal gambling opportunities that a lot of kids would try gambling,” White said.

Poker is a popular pastime, but students also bet on sporting events.

According to ESPN, more than $90 million was bet on the regular NFL season.

Steve Shaw, freshman, bets semi-frequently on sporting events, but keeps it under control by doing it mostly with family and for low stakes.

“It is a 50-50 chance, so there is no sure thing,” he said.

Shaw said players, weather conditions and injuries all impact the outcome of the game, making a bet that much more of a difficult decision.

Reinbold likes to play Texas hold’em, and he said some college students don’t understand the consequences of gambling.

“A lot of people just think they can play and win and there is nothing to it, but they are wrong,” he said. “There is a lot of hard work with time and dedication that needs to be put in to be a successful poker player.”

If you or someone you know has a gambling-related problem, you can contact the Ohio Gambling Problem Hotline at 1-800-589-9966 for more help and assistance.