Online Gambling

Speaking of College Hijinks, Do You Remember the One About the College Class President Who Robbed a Bank to Cover His Bets?


Over at Splice Today, Sarah McClutchy looks upon Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) visiting the World Series of Poker and figures his legislative attempt to repeal the ban on online gambling is a done deal (more than a bit optimisitic IMO, but hope springs eternal). A Lehigh grad, she also recalls the saga of classmate Greg Hogan, the sophomore class prez who ended up robbing a bank to cover his online bets a few years back.

I read her piece as one more reason why anybody who goes into student politics really is just a total tool. And why I was right not to consider Lehigh back in the day. She sees it more as a cautionary tale about colleges aiding and abetting bad behavior via high-speed broadband connections. Still, she concludes

Despite these dangers, online gambling should not be illegal. As history has proven, prohibition doesn't work; the people always manage to find a way to indulge their vices despite their government's best efforts. Barney Frank's bill should and probably will be passed, but its implications worry me. The likelihood of an increased number of people getting in over their heads while mindlessly clicking away on their PCs seems inevitable as many Americans are unemployed and looking for extra money. Back in 2005, Hogan may have been an anomaly, but in this climate, online addicts could become increasingly common. If passed, the legislation would likely not take effect until 2010 when economic conditions may or may not have improved…. Once it's legalized, the only thing that will protect those prone to a dangerous and devastating addiction will be foolproof regulation-and a lot of it.

Whole thing here.

I'm betting (and taking all action) that President Hogan's problems extended far beyond any sort of gambling "addiction." And that college kids and their parents or whoever is paying for the ride will come to very quick and effective solutions about online gambling. All without digital kneecaps being involved, either.

Reason on gambling here. on paying for college here.

NEXT: Sotomayor's Kelo Mistake

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  1. Once it’s legalized, the only thing that will protect those prone to a dangerous and devastating addiction will be foolproof regulation-and a lot of it.

    Stupid quote of the week. I know it’s only Tuesday, but that’s going to be hard to top.

  2. Once it’s legalized, the only thing that will protect those prone to a dangerous and devastating addiction will be foolproof regulation-and a lot of it.

    This will also be the mantra for legalizing weed, so get ready for it. The poor stupid people are too dumb to control themselves, but they’re going to do it anyway, so let’s legalize but be paternalistic as shit.

  3. I long for the good old days when college kids who wanted to go to a bar, get drunk on bad tequila, pay for sex, and get beaten up by thugs outside for the money in their pockets, had to physically drive to Tijuana.

  4. All of these types of legislation (obviously) piss me off.

    I talk to people who don’t share my political views…and the jist of everything is that people can’t be trusted to control themselves. People readily admit as much to me. Then I ask them to reconcile the following: If one person isn’t trusted to control their own life, why should someone thousands of miles away be entrusted with controlling the lives of hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people? I add the qualifier, “Answer without saying ‘we have the right people, or smart people in charge.'”

    They look at me with nonplussed eyes, and stutter out that they are the right people making the decisions.

    People as sheep as people.

    Any tips on how to suade or enlighten these folks? Tried and true methods perhaps?

  5. > Any tips on how to suade or enlighten these folks?

    Suade, nope — they’re true believers. Enlighten, yep — ask ’em to meditate.

  6. Hey SugarFree, how is that quote stupid?

    She’s talking about schools regulating their content, which you would have (hopefully) recognized had this quote not been so cleverly taken out of context with some well placed elipses.

    The FULL quote:
    As for the growing problem of online gambling at colleges, Schwartz puts it best: “Never before have the means to lose so much been so available to so many at such a young age.” Once it’s legalized, the only thing that will protect those prone to a dangerous and devastating addiction will be foolproof regulation-and a lot of it.

    Schools already regulate adult content, file-sharing and bandwidth, enlighten me as to what’s so stupid about restricting access to gambling websites as well?

  7. “Any tips on how to suade or enlighten these folks? Tried and true methods perhaps?”

    Ev, if you’ve actually had conversations like the one you described, then you’re the asshole. Stop being such an arrogant prick, and people will be more open to giving you a fair hearing.

    Also, once you’ve made a good case for something, stop talking about it. DO NOT try to push them into conceding that they’re wrong; it will backfire. Plant some seeds… the person might consider your ideas, and over time, they’ll often come to believe that they came to these new conclusions all on their own.

    Also, if you think the people you’re trying to persuade are unenlightened sheep, taken aback at your towering genius… then you’re unlikely to convince anybody of anything other than you’re an asshole.

  8. Andrew,

    The quote is not stupid because she’s advocating the censoring of the broadband internet at schools. (Another matter entirely.) It’s stupid because you cannot keep people from getting addicted to something if they are prone to do so and there is no such thing as foolproof regulation.

    It is not the school’s fault these people are becoming addicted to gambling. It is their fault. Broadband doesn’t make you a gambling addict. Liquor stores don’t make you an alcoholic. Handguns don’t make you shoot people. Painkillers don’t make you a junkie. Cigarettes don’t make you a chain smoker.

    The fact that millions and millions of people can on-line gamble without robbing a bank puts the responsibility back on the person, you know, robbing the bank.

  9. Lehigh was, in my day, a serious, hard-core party school. All that stopped about 2 years after Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered there. That happened during my sophomore year. Lehigh paid her parents some huge secret settlement, rumored to be about $20 million. After my senior year, they totally revamped campus security and cracked down on open parties and underage drinking. But before that, the Hill at Lehigh was a very wild place to be on just about any Friday or Saturday night.

    Anyhow, it does tend to be a “poor little rich kid” school. I didn’t fit that pattern while I was there, that’s for sure.

  10. It should be obvious from the facts that UIGEA and similar anti-poker laws are about protecting state-enforced monopolies, not about morality or protecting children. Lehigh is an excellent example; UIGEA takes away the opportunity to play poker online…and then the city lets the Sands set up a giant casino with only slot machines next door. Sands Bethlehem opens this year.

    It’s not like I can’t conveniently gamble in New York City–a race track is a short subway ride away, a bank of “Video Lottery Terminals” (which are like slot machines except they don’t pay off) are an hour away on Metro-North, and I can buy lottery tickets on any street corner. But poker is a menace to the children, don’t you know. And it doesn’t give state employees the chance to rig games in their favor.

  11. ” But poker is a menace to the children”

    I taught my daughter to play poker when she was ten. It’s a great way to teach math and probability.

  12. to author and anyone attesting that regulation is despicable…

    like it or not, you live in a civilization. i’m more thrilled by the “live and let live” mantra, but why not also help someone when you get the chance? there are plenty that can’t be helped.

    Movement to regulate types of online gambling would be remarkably absent of negative repercussion inside of the imaginary sphere where we collectively live. Do not rebut this by speculating about various future regulations.

    I received a higher education at Lehigh too but I know generalizations and lobbies will only slight all of you readers. I will refrain in the spirit of intellectuality

  13. “All without digital kneecaps being involved, either.”

    … but that would make it really funny!

  14. Lehigh started going down hill (pardon the pun) around 1984 when liability laws were changed in PA. Alumni (some very old) who use to return for every home football game to their fraternity suddenly found the climate changed dramatically. Cocktails and dinner post game vanished and with it a link to the past.

    They brought in Peter Likins at the same time and the school has never recovered. The goal now seems to be erase any memory of its history of engineering expertise and replace it with as much feel good arts and crafts and edukation as possible. With the demise of Beth Steel the air should smell better but Lehigh stinks now.

  15. @ LJ, Why should the government dictate how I can spend my money just because someone else will make bad decisions? Also, what’s the difference between playing the stock market and a game of poker?

    As a Lehigh grad of less than 3 months I can tell you that the decline has continued. My freshman year the school fell off US Today’s party school listing. I’m sure made the administration happy, not so much the alumni. Question for the older alumni: Does Lehigh’s crack down on partying/Greek Life negatively impact your intention to donate to the school?

    With regard to the topic of this article: While Hogan’s excuse was the online gambling debt, there were plenty of rumors floating around that it had as much to do with a coke addiction as a gambling one. Obviously, rumors fly pretty easily in a college environment so take that as you will.

  16. Sugarfree / Episiarch –

    I definitely share your views that the existence of online gambling sites do not make anyone an addict. Furthermore, the estimated $48.6 billion ( the gov’t could raise over the next decade by allowing online gambling in the US is one pretty persuasive reason to support its legalization. While I don’t use any of these sites myself, the vast majority of my male friends do and some of them come away with huge winnings (or at least they claim they do.)The Hogan thing never seemed to phase anyone that used these sites at Lehigh;I would venture to say online gambling became increasingly popular throughout my college years. Interestingly, a guy that graduated a year before me who was a very skilled (online)poker player, went on to place 3rd in the World Series of Poker this year:

    Regardless, there are a couple of substantial reasons why I feel there needs to be regulation – and perhaps I should have developed this idea in the article rather than having it be the closer.) First, the existence of these sites depends on people like Hogan – “Fish” so they’re called – i.e. people that continually lose, and lose badly, and thus provide a steady fixed income to the site. Now, I recognize that again this is a matter of individual choice – if someone loses badly, and continues to play and lose badly, that is their choice and it’s not the norm. This same scenario happens in casinos as well – but what I would argue is that due to the nature of online gambling – it’s usually done alone, it’s anti-social – is that it makes many “fish” more likely. My argument is that because other people are around while you’re gambling real-time, you’re less likely to make an ass out of yourself betting the farm away and spiraling out of control. I’m interested to know what other commenters think about that – how the “social” aspect factors in.

    The other reason, which I think is a lot more solid than the first reason, is the existence of “cheating” programs. Schwartz discusses these programs a bit in his article and for anyone that’s really interested in this story I encourage you to read the whole Schwartz article because he gets into a pretty in depth discussion about the industry. Anyway, these programs seek out “fish”, record playing patterns, and even crack the algorithm that many of these sites use to generate random card flops. I even heard during college that someone had a program that tapped into a poker site’s algorithm and he and others were using it to make a lot of money and not getting caught because they used multiple accounts to avoid any suspicion. Again, I haven’t used these sites and am definitely not a math person (but most people at Lehigh are, maybe that explains the propensity for gambling there?) so I wouldn’t know the first thing about how a program could crack the algorithm, but I do know that these programs definitely exist. These programs seriously threaten online gambling as a viable industry – they make the game completely unfair and this is why there needs to be regulation – there needs to be some way to detect these programs, prevent people from using them (how? i don’t know) and/or eradicate them completely – which is very unrealistic…as long as you math geniuses existthey will be able to make computer programs that crack codes. If anyone knows more about this aspect of the topic – please comment because I’d be really interested to know if there is a way to detect these programs.

    As for the decline of the Lehigh party scene and its reputation for being a “rich kid school” I agree with those sentiments to some degree. When it got ranked the #3 party school in 2005 it seemed like the administration and campus police freaked out. During a two week span over 100 kids were arrested for things like open container because they had one foot on a lawn and one foot on public side walk. I had to interview the chief of police for the newspaper to find out why an unprecedented number of student arrests had occured and he said they were simply “trying to set the tone for the semester.” it was pretty ridiculous. Regardless, I had a great time during by years at Lehigh and I can honestly say that I had a good experience and got a good education as well. Thanks for everyone’s interest and comments on this story.


  17. Recent Grad —

    I never heard anything about a coke addiction but given its prevalence on campus (ironically the more they cracked down on drinking, the more convenient/popular drugs seemed to become)it would not surprise me very much.

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