More college students hooked on gambling

About 6 percent of college students in the United States have serious gambling problems, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. It’s a number experts say is growing as more opportunities become available to gamble. Nationally, about 75 percent of college students gambled last year and 18 percent admitted they did so at least weekly, according to the council’s partner, CollegeGambling.org.

The most popular gambling activity with students was playing the lottery (41 percent), followed by card games (38 percent) and sports betting (23 percent).

From the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW:

PITTSBURGH — Just weeks before Christmas 2005, Greg Hogan Jr. — president of his college class, gifted cello player and son of a respected minister — slipped a note to a terrified Lehigh County bank teller warning that he had a gun and demanding all her money.
Later that day police slapped handcuffs on him as he was about to perform with his college orchestra.

For Hogan, it was the end of a tortured journey from friendly dorm room poker games with buddies to the life of a compulsive gambler so addicted to online gambling that he sometimes spent more than 12 hours a day at his computer placing wagers.

About 6 percent of college students in the United States have serious gambling problems, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. It’s a number experts say is growing as more opportunities become available to gamble.

Nationally, about 75 percent of college students gambled last year and 18 percent admitted they did so at least weekly, according to the council’s partner, CollegeGambling.org.

The most popular gambling activity with students was playing the lottery (41 percent), followed by card games (38 percent) and sports betting (23 percent).

Dr. John Massella, who runs a California University of Pennsylvania addiction program called Cal Clean and Sober, said the temptation is heightened in areas where casino gambling is readily available.
Patrons at the state’s 11 casinos must be 21, but anyone 18 and older can play the lottery.

In Pennsylvania, “there’s a lot of gambling; there’s no shortage of it,” said Dan Romer, director of health communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

The freedom that comes with being away from home and the need to fit in with peers often leads students to dabble in gambling, Romer said.

College officials are increasing their efforts to deal with problem gambling. Massella started a group at his school for students battling the addiction.

Butler County’s Human Services Drug and Alcohol branch partnered with Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania to assess the status of gambling on the campus, which is an easy drive from casinos in Erie and Pittsburgh. They will identify where problems exist and develop resources for students.

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