Internet gambling up among college-age men

By DailyCollegian.com Staff

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One poker game here. One poker game there. Harmless fun, right? Not for all.

Statistics detailing who gambles online have found that more and more college-aged men are taking to the Internet to bet to their hearts’ delight.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, college-aged men are partaking in online gambling at an increasing rate.

The annual survey’s findings show that 4.4 percent of men reported gambling online in 2008 compared with 16 percent in 2010. These percentages represent 400,000 males in college ranging from age 18 to 22 who gambled at least once a week on the Internet, and over 1.7 million who gambled at least once a month.

Dan Romer, the author of the survey, claimed the increase is due to the fact that payment restrictions are no longer a barrier for users.

According to CreditCards.com, the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006 was meant to ban most forms of online gambling in the United States. As an alternative to criminalizing online gambling, the UIGEA was created to prohibit online gambling by requiring credit card companies and banks to stop processing transactions associated with online gambling. Instead of using credit cards, online gambling sites are allowing electronic-fund-transfer services, cash-transfer agents and electronic-check-processing services. Some also dispute that poker is covered by the law, as they argue that it is a game of skill.

Kash Eurkus, a student here at the University of Massachusetts, is a professional online poker player. Contacted via email, Eurkus said he had played online for just five minutes and made $400 that very day. Eurkus first began playing because he enjoyed both poker and competition. At first he played for free. But like many, Eurkus comes from what he describes as a lower middle class family.

“I would always hear how we are in debt or don’t have money for certain things because my parents had to put three kids through college, so I wanted to try to help out my family by trying to make money online, and this was only at 16,” he explained.

Eurkus has never worked a “normal” job, because he has been making such sums playing poker. Since March, he said he has made over $11,000.

Eurkus said that, while he tries to live a normal student’s life, his involvement in online poker certainly dictates areas of his schedule.

“I try not to let gambling affect my life too much, but it definitely does, because tournaments online can take up to eight hours if you make it far, which makes it hard to do school work,” he elaborated.

As much as Eurkus’ story seems to make the case that online gambling is a positive, such success as his is a rarity.

Although online poker can be enjoyable, profitable and a place to relieve stress, it has negatively affected some lives.

Some words of wisdom from Eurkus: “You can always quit and change your life, get a real job and stop playing for an extended period of time, because if you have a real job you can’t lose money.”

Amy Brennan can be reached at [email protected]