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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Poker still loved after online ban

    In spite of a recent legislative ban on online gambling, college students across the nation are still virtually holding ’em and folding ’em for fun and profit – some of them at the risk of serious addiction.

    According to a 2005 report from the

    In the brain there are various
    chemicals and electrical impulses that control everything we do. For whatever reason, the act of gambling triggers those impulses.

    -Don Hulen,
    Arizona Council
    on Compulsive Gambling

    Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia, 15.4 percent of college students in the United States reported that they play cards at least once a week.

    “”I’ve seen actually an arc in popularity of poker,”” said Jake Fey, a business senior and an avid poker player. “”I think we’ve already passed the pinnacle. We reached it last year.””

    Although poker may be weaning from the height of its popularity, some attribute the decline to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which blocks direct payment to any online gambling site, making it illegal for anyone in the U.S. to gamble online.

    Since the act makes it more difficult to play poker online, many have stopped playing, according the Web site.

    That is not to say online gambling is impossible.

    “”For a while I didn’t play online right after Bush put the legislation in because they made it such a pain in the ass,”” Fey said. He added that he still plays online through a third-party system of depositing money on a prepaid credit card.

    “”You have to pay $5 for every $100 you load on,”” Fey said. “”It’s a pain to basically pay money to lose money.””

    Fey said that he plays poker for about 20 hours a week on average. In addition to online poker, he also plays live games at the casino and home games with friends.

    He said in one sitting at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J., he won $600.

    “”Over the long run, I would say I don’t make enough to quit my job,”” he added. “”There have been months where I’ve made several hundred and been comfortable for that month and the next one.

    “”The problem is it’s not reliable, but it’s handy when I am winning.””

    Evan Specter, a business freshman, said he is against online gambling because of the high risk that comes with it.

    “”Putting money on a card, it’s too easy to get screwed over quickly,”” he said.

    For some, gambling can be a fun hobby. For others, it lead to a serious addiction.

    Don Hulen works for the Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling, a nonprofit center that offers support for those who have gambling problems.

    He has several theories as to why poker has grown in popularity among young people over the past few years.

    “”It’s just something that was marketed well and has really taken off,”” Hulen said. “”It is apparently an extremely fun game to play. It has all the components: it’s very quick, it’s for stakes and there is a huge element of luck but there is also a substantial element of skill.””

    “”The girls started playing it, which made it even neater for young adults,”” he added. “”Parties were organized at school that didn’t cost very much to go and play. It became a social event.””

    The pleasure that comes from gambling is actually a chemical reaction in the brain, Hulen said.

    “”In the brain there are various chemicals and electrical impulses that control everything we do,”” he said. “”For whatever reason, the act of gambling triggers those impulses.””

    But as with any type of gambling, poker can result in addiction, Hulen said, adding that many young people are attracted to “”at-risk”” games.

    “”The vast majority of them mature out of those at-risk factors and move on with their lives,”” he said.

    According to the ACCG Web site,, 2-4 percent of the general population suffers from gambling addiction, which is considered a “”progressive disease”” like addictions to alcohol or drugs.

    For most people, gambling is a recreational activity, Hulen said. It is when individuals who are predisposed to addiction start gambling that it becomes a problem.

    Those who can easily develop a gambling problem sometimes have a personality trait Hulen called “”big-shotism.”” He said that most compulsive gamblers are egotistical.

    “”A lot of jocks play,”” Hulen added.

    One of the biggest warning signs of pathological gambling is lying about it, Hulen said.

    “”Young people know when the other guy is lying,”” he said. “”They never talk about the losses.””

    Other signs include when people gamble despite negative consequences and when they want to borrow money from friends, he said.

    The ACCG site offers several tests for family members and individuals who think they might be pathological gamblers, Hulen said.

    “”If you answer at least five of those questions honestly ‘yes,’ you are probably a pathological gambler,”” he said.

    Fey admits that he has had issues with gambling.

    “”I have felt like I’ve gotten to the point where I was gambling too much, especially with online poker because it’s so easy to play, and it’s like a video game,”” he said. “”I’ve made mistakes that way, and taken steps to avoid that happening again.””

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