16 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 5, 1997
The success of Michigan's athletic teams has
elated thousands of loyal fans.
But at local bars and behind closed doors,
bookies regularly take bets on athletic contests,
as students look for a quick thrill and an easy
way to gain cash fast.
BY DEBRA HIRSCHFIELD
DAILY STAFF REPORTER
It's not whether you win or lose. It's how
you play the game.
Where sportsmanship is concerned, the
old saying may hold true. But for student
gamblers who pluck down their cash in
hopes of beating the odds and making a
few bucks, winning or losing means every-
Football aficionados credit their beloved
sport as being the most exciting athletic
event in the nation. But gamblers also rely
on the sport as the pinnacle of all gambling
"Betting on other sports, such as basket-
ball, hockey, and even baseball, exists all
year round. But football season is the king
of all gambling seasons," said an LSA
junior and bookie known to campus gam-
blers as The Worm.
Although gambling on college campuses
will' bet on
their S@ tis
- The Worm
exists in forms
- that include activ-
ities such as
poker, darts and
prove most entic-
ing to college
and former book-
"People bet on
hockey, but not
even close to as
much as football,"
of sports gam-
bling on campus
can be attributed
to simplicity: It is
A University senior and waitress at a
local sports bar said she sees students gam-
ble on all NCAA football games, not just
those involving the Michigan football
team. Betting on football games is definite-
ly commonplace, she said.
Officials in the Athletic Department say
they are unaware of any gambling issues
affecting University athletics.
"I don't see it because I try as an indi-
vidual to stay away from those situations,"
said Bruce Madej, assistant athletic direc-
tor for media relations.
Senior Associate Athletic Director Keith
Molin had no comment about the preva-
lence of gambling on campus.
Postseason bowl games will likely
enhance the amount of student gambling.
"Bowl games stand out because they are
three or four days of intense football," The
Considering Michigan's Rose Bowl
berth, some students will have a personal
stake in placing bets on the game's out-
come. Some gamblers see it as a way to
display their spirit and exhibit support for
"More people will gamble on the Rose
Bowl specifically because we are in it.
People will be convinced that we will win,
so they will try to find people to bet on
Washington," said Business junior
"The Rose Bowl is a high-profile game,
and more people will be inclined to place a
bet," said Engineering first-year student
"Anytime a game gets bigger, it gets
more and more enhanced," Madej said,
referring to a potential increase in gam-
bling as a result of Michigan's participa-
tion in Rose Bowl.
Abramson doubts that the Rose Bowl
will encourage more students to gamble.
"People who gamble will gamble regard-
less," he said.
Some students say they find gambling
distasteful, since they have little control
over the outcome of the game or their mon-
"I don't want to lose money on some-
thing I can't control," said LSA first-year
student Kent Shafer.
The Worm said the spread is not the only
consideration when bettors pick what team
"It is probably true that college students
will bet on their school because of their
ties. However, they are not betting with
their head, but betting with their hearts,"
The Worm said.
Recreation and obsession
Students say there is a fine line between
gambling for entertainment and gambling
as an obsession. And it is often difficult to
determine where these lines cross.
"For the most part, gambling is a pas-
time. It keeps students entertained through-
out the game," The Worm said, noting that
gambling can surface in the form of a
friendly wager before a game.
Jackpots range from a drink at a bar or
dinner at The Gandy Dancer - to bets
worth hundreds of dollars.
With stakes determined in
advance based on a spread,
some students find enter-
tainment value in the
thrill of the gam-
ble, not necessar-
ily the monetary
score is not a
of the excitement
While the Department of Public Safety says it has made few gambling-related arrests,I
ceming athletic events.
Photo illustration by SARA STILLMAN/Daily
bookies on campus say wagering is prevalent, particularly con-
value in the game," The Worm said, refer-
ring to the point spread and wagers that
contribute to the outcome.
Abramson said one reason "students do
it is for fun, for something to do." He said
students seek "the rush" that comes from
the uncertainty of chance, rather than for
any financial compensation
Both bookies agreed that gambling can
grow into a dangerous addiction. At some
point, the stimulation created by betting
evolves from harmless enjoyment to a bla-
tant necessity to win.
According to a recent study conducted
relatively easy for students to pick one
team and bet on an outcome according to
"The reason students bet is because the
money is enticing. All you have to do is
pick one team over the other. It seems too
easy," The Worm said.
Even trivial propositions, such as who
will win the coin toss before the game, who
will kick the extra points after each touch-
down and what team will kick the first field
goal hold seemingly non-strategic stakes in
the game. Still, these incidents represent
potential profits for student gamblers.
"I've seen people bet on heads-tails coin
flips," Abramson said, acknowledging that
he doesn't see it occur frequently.
"Coin tosses are reserved for the Super
Bowl," The Worm said.
Bowl berth breeds betting
The University's emphasis on sports,
enhanced by the football team's exemplary
season, solidifies sports betting as the most
prevalent type of gambling on campus.
"Besides academics, football and sports
are a primary reason why people love U of
M," said LSA first-year student Nicholas
Yu, saying he is not surprised by the per-
vasiveness of gambling.
Detroit, University students will have an
easier opportunity to aim their expertise
(and their wallets) at ventures other than
"There will definitely be more access for
students, because they do not have to worry
about converting money and crossing the
border into Canada," The Worm said,
referring to a popular casino in Windsor,
Ontario. But the bookie noted that since
there will not be any sports bookies in the
casino, college sports gambling will still
"I'll be down there every week because
most likely it will be cheaper to play," said
LSA first-year stu-
Iing InCOme dent Adam Rouls.
by Harvard Medical
of Americans and
with few repercus-
sions. But the
prevalence of "dis-
in the adult popula-
tion has increased
from .84 percent to
1.29 percent over
the past 20 years.
In crossing the
line from hobby to
habit, The Worm
becomes an addic-
tion when the stu-
dent is forced to
ieans of income in
order to maintain.
his or her gambling
School, the majority
in 1995, the casino gambling
industry reported $16.3 billion in
revenue from casino gambling
activities alone. Top states, in
billions: -, _oth
dicted the new
casinos in Detroit
will not have a sig-
nificant impact on
gamble already go
Since the age
gamble in Windsor
is 19, it is more
he said. Thee
will have a mini-
mum gambling age,
distance between a
potential for gambling on campus exists,
there have been no legal infractions asso-
ciated with student involvement in gam-
bling rings, Hall said.
"We haven't had any incidents of gam-
bling reported in a while," Hall said.
Madej said any reports of gambling on
campus will lead to a legal response.
"If we hear about anything like that, we
would report it and send it on to the proper
authorities," Madej said.
Hall affirmed that DPS does not see
gambling as a major problem at the
"We do not have a problem on campus.
We haven't had a problem in years and
years," Hall said.
The Worm said he has no fears of facing
repercussions for his activities as a bookie.
Playing the odds
While sports fans dedicate hours exam-
ining game statistics for their personal
interest, a gambler's need for regular cash
flow is critical.
Do the odds favor student winnings,
allowing them to carelessly spend their
way through college? Or do bookies swin-
dle students with ease, like stealing candy
from a baby?
If the gambler's team of choice loses, the
gambler is obligated to pay the bookie an
additional 10 percent of the amount origi-
"It they bet $50, they lose $55," The
Worm said. "This 10 percent loss makes all
the difference, especially when dealing
with thousands of dollars."
Abramson said it is not impossible for
students to win. "But students definitely
lose more. That's why bookies make more
"Bookies lose some weeks," The Worm
said. When most bettors select the winning
team, there are fewer profits for the bookie
"The more often you bet, the higher the
chances you have of losing," The Worm
said. "The house always comes out on top
The differences in
The Worm said heavy gamblers some-
times resort to desperate measures if they
get in debt, taking an attitude of "don't
worry, if 1 lose I have stock I can sell" in
order to cover their losses.
When the gambler is forced to ask grand-
parents for money, The Worm said joking-
ly, it is the sign of a serious problem.
The allure of casinos
With the recent approval of Atwater,
Greektown, and MGM Grand casinos in
trip from Ann Arbor to Windsor and a trip
from Ann Arbor to Detroit are not signifi-
cant enough to make Detroit a bigger gam-
bling draw, Abramson said.
Gambling and the laW
Elizabeth Hall, spokesperson for the
Department of Public Safety, said prosecu-
tion of student bookies and gamblers has
not been widespread on campus in recent
years. Although DPS is aware that the
Riches and your wildest dreams, brought to you on pirate ships
eeding the famous advice of
Wesley Snipes, who, in the
action movie "Passenger 57"
reminds us to "always bet on black," I
confidently plunked down my $5 chip
at the roulette wheel on a recent
excursion to Las Vegas. As usual, the
odds on my particular wager were a
t.ft t. . f r n ..a,,, . , m ,ot t
drink of your choice - is gratis in
Vegas. At the blackjack table I won
$365 in a matter of minutes, and in the
sports book I earned $50 when Penn
State beat Purdue by more than six
Three days later, those winnings -
plus another $150- had disappeared.
r nn. - n ai.v [
entertainment. The darling of movies
and mobsters alike, Vegas was built
virtually from scratch by scoundrels
who envisioned an oasis at a bleak
trading post in the middle of nowhere.
Today's metropolis of more than
100,000 hotel rooms is considered the
fastest growing city in America - at
ia.:. .'e then ,
week's Michigan football game in the
casino sports book felt like a Saturday
in the Big House - minus a round of
"Temptation" every time the other
team had to punt. But Vegas is surely
a long way from Ann Arbor.
Stepping off the airplane in
Nevada, one is instantly bombarded
wihmash sca nld-ann adveriseements
hotels. And more hotels, Each one has
fine restaurants, health spas and high-
class rooms. Each one also has a
theme so that visitors feel less like
they are in the middle of the desert
and more like they are in the tropics,
pirate coves, Mardi Gras, Circuses,
ancient Rome, ancient Egypt, ancient
Enoand nr even New York Citv. All
the dreams of naive patrons who can'*
afford to bet a sum of money that can
buy food for a day on a-card game.
Leave the wagering to Nevada and
New Jersey, they say, our state has
What these people don't realize is
that gambling is the great equalizer -
an institution that doesn't discriminate