Because gambling is popular among many students, they overlook the fact that according to the Community Living at Michigan handbook, “Gambling in residence halls in violation of federal, state and local laws is prohibited.”
Yet students often gather in residence hall lounges like the Markley Underground or Bursley’s Blue Apple to play poker.
Many students play on a daily basis, whether in person or on various Internet gambling sites, unconcerned that gambling for money is illegal in Michigan with only a few exceptions.
Under the Michigan Penal Code, betting money on any game of chance — including Internet games — is treated as a misdemeanor.
Lt. Robert Neumann of the Department of Public Safety said exceptions to state prohibitions on gambling include licensed raffles, lottery games, bingo and some carnival games.
Additional exceptions — including gambling on Indian reservations and betting on horse races through licensed bookies — are provided for in the Michigan Exposition and Fairgrounds Act.
Although it does not deter them from playing, students try to keep their games hidden from Resident Advisors who can write them up or report them to DPS.
“If I were to find residents gambling, I would ask for their name and UMID and write an information report,” said Lynn Kee, an RA in Mosher-Jordan Hall, in a written message. “The resident would have to meet up with the hall director who would implement the appropriate sanction.” Other RAs said they had not caught students gambling, and some even said they were unaware of students gambling in the residence halls.
“I’d be really pissed off if an RA came down and stopped us (from gambling),” said one student, who wished to remain anonymous. “We mostly play for fun. The money just adds excitement. Our RA doesn’t even know we play.”
“I don’t even really care about winning, though I obviously want to,” LSA freshman Daniel Albo said. “It’s a good way to hang out with friends and have some friendly competition.” “There’s really no reason for them to stop us from playing. We don’t disrupt anyone, we don’t get violent. It’s just a game,” he said.
DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said DPS has not dealt with student gambling. She said DPS would only get involved if an incident were reported, adding, “Students in violation would be punished according to the Community Living Standards Code rather than by criminal prosecution.”
Despite a general concern that students are at high risk for problematic gambling, a 2004 study by the National Center for Responsible Gaming found that just 42 percent of college students had gambled in the past year, compared with 82 percent of all adults.
The study demonstrated that students are not more likely to gamble than other adults, though it noted that the college student figure may increase if Internet gambling becomes more popular through advertisements for gambling websites. Many websites for college students — including The Facebook — have advertisements offering discounts to students who set up Internet gambling accounts.
If students feel they have a gambling problem, they can seek help from residence hall peer advisors or call Michigan’s Gamblers Anonymous hotline numbers: (313) 792-2877 or (616) 776-0666.