How Colleges and Sports Betting Companies ‘Caesarized’ Campuses

Charlie, a 22-year-old college student who spoke on the condition that only his first name be used, began acting during his freshman year at Syracuse University. He quickly ran into trouble.

Syracuse does not have an online sports betting partner, although it does promote gambling through its partnership with the nearby Turning Stone Resort and Casino. Charlie, however, placed his bets with illegal bookmakers.

“He went from betting $5, $10 and $200 to $500,” he said. He bet on tennis, baseball, golf, football. “I even had a bit of UFC,” he added, referring to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

In the fall of his senior year, Charlie knew something was wrong. He was depressed and couldn’t sleep. His grades were down and he owed $1,800 to several bookmakers. Sports betting had gone from a casual pastime to a serious issue.

“I couldn’t stop countless times. I turned $100 into $2000, then in the same hour I lost all of that $2000 plus another $500. And then you can imagine how depressing that is, right? I mean, it’s just – it’s awful.

Students are often slow to recognize that they may not be able to gamble responsibly.

“Most of the time, the person who becomes a compulsive gambler doesn’t want to stop gambling, because his head is like, ‘This is fun. It’s going to solve my problems,” rather than “I have to quit gambling because I’m destroying my life,” said Michelle Malkin, an assistant professor at East Carolina University who studies the link between gambling and crime. It’s really difficult, especially for a young person, to come to that conclusion.”

In January, just when he was supposed to start his last semester at Syracuse, Charlie left school and got himself treated. Instead of graduating with his friends in May, he spent his time working at a golf club to pay off his gambling debts and seek help at a rehabilitation center. He now attends weekly Gamblers Anonymous meetings and is unsure of his intention to return to Syracuse.


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