Students gamble their loans

Research by a charity dealing with gambling addicts has identified students as a problem group for gambling.

Gamcare claims that more than a third of the people they deal with are aged between 18 and 25, and many are students.

Judith Carey, director of Student Services at the University of Lincoln, has noticed that, while this is not a common problem at the university, the number of students that she deals with who are suffering from financial problems as a result of gambling is increasing.

“Students receive their loans and then play games like poker as they think that it is a game of skill, but can quickly get themselves into financial trouble as gambling can often get out of hand.”

Adrian Scarf from Gamcare has also picked up on the fact that poker presents a large problem amongst young people, as it is easily accessible online and heavily promoted.

“Young people enjoy the buzz of gambling and over a period of time they might have fun, but the house always wins.”

Gamcare has highlighted the internet as fuelling gambling problems as it provides more and more enticements to gamble without even leaving the comfort of your bedroom.

William Wrisdale, a mathematics student, says he enjoys playing poker with friends. He has set up an online poker account and feels there is an opportunity to make money from it.

“I think there is skill involved and it is possible to win but I would never be reckless enough to risk large sums of money.  While the stakes are low it remains fun but the enjoyment goes if things get out of hand.”

Matt Veal spent time as a semi-professional online poker player and warns that it takes a lot of time and dedication to be successful. He says only 10% of players make any real money from the game.

“I would spend six to ten hours a day online, and the theories are complex, such as bankroll management.  In brief, if you are betting with more than 10% of your money on one table then the chances of going bust are far greater.”

For this reason you need a decent amount of money behind you, but before you even consider this he explains how you should get yourself accustomed to poker and how it works.

“There are ‘Micro Pots’ where players can bet just a dollar, and these are the places where you need to build up experience.  After a lot of time and effort I came away with £12,000 in tournament winnings in 2007. But at the end of the day it is still a game of chance and the skill is in knowing when to walk away,” he says.

Judith Carey says that while she has no problem with gambling in moderation, and confessed she enjoys the occasional day at the races, things can escalate too easily.

“It is important to remember that, while some people do make money out of gambling, the casinos and gambling sites would not exist if the odds weren’t seriously in their favour,” she says.

The harsh truth of the matter is that Student Services are dealing with people who have got into financial problems as a result of gambling, but they do still offer a way out for students. Help from the Access to Learning Fund is still available and this is means tested irrespective of a student’s reason for turning to it.

Carey explained how students rarely come forward and admit they have a gambling problem, but when they ask for financial help it soon becomes apparent.

“We do not discriminate, however. We would offer to pay the persons rent for them or pay them small instalments rather than just giving them a lump some of money.  After all, we are dealing with public money.”.

As Matt Veal says, it is important to know when to walk away, which is not always simple. Gamcare offer help and advice on their website www.gamcare.org.uk

Student Support also offers help and guidance with managing finances ,as well as providing information about the Access to Learning Fund.

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