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    March 2011

    Student Gambling Policies

    According to the most recent National Annenberg Survey of Youth, more than half of all college-age men and one third of college-age women gamble once a month.  Research indicates that students are more susceptible to developing “disordered” gambling habits than the general adult population, and they show an increase in related problematic behaviors, such as substance abuse.

    Given the potential negative effects of student gambling, higher education institutions may wish to address gambling in the student code of conduct and organize educational and assistance programs to prevent and help treat problem behavior. The decision on whether to institute a policy may depend on local and state laws, the educational mission, and expectations for student conduct. Consider the following:

    Laws

    The legality of gambling activities—such as online betting, lotteries, sports contests, horseracing, and slots—and the minimum age for participation vary from state to state. Higher education institutions may list gambling among illegal behaviors, including unlawful alcohol or drug use, which may subject a student to disciplinary sanctions.

    Educational Mission

    In addition to illegal gambling, institutions may want to restrict activities that are inconsistent with their educational mission, such as poker and other card games involving money at any sponsored meeting, event, trip, or function that is supported by operating funds or student activity fees. Some institutions may prohibit gambling activities that take place in residence halls, other university-owned housing, or elsewhere on campus.

    Gambling events hosted by student groups, such as “Casino Nights,” can undermine institutional messages about the dangers of gambling. Encourage nongambling activities. Whether your institution decides to prohibit student gambling entirely or permit it with specific restrictions, be sure to establish a policy that addresses applicable laws, support for recovery, and guidelines for special events.

    Student Conduct

    As with any student conduct issue, an institution should only adopt policies it can enforce. This means acting upon tips or knowledge of such activities, making appropriate referrals to law enforcement, and imposing disciplinary sanctions as warranted.

    A 2009 report issued by the Task Force on Student Gambling, a project of the Division on Addictions at the Cambridge Health Alliance and the National Center for Responsible Gaming, recommended that educational institutions consider the following when developing a policy:

    Explain Prohibitions and Restrictions
    Publish gambling policies in the student code of conduct and raise awareness of laws that prompt campus prohibitions and restrictions. Examples of rules include age restrictions, regulations for charitable gaming, and prohibitions on sports betting pools and bookmaking operations.

    Provide Oversight
    Establish a campus-wide committee to develop and monitor the policy. The committee may include faculty or staff involved in student behavioral concerns, including student affairs, campus police, and student health and counseling services as well as athletics, university relations, and academic department personnel. Include legal counsel in the policy review process and consult with local or state police departments.

    Recognize and Facilitate Recovery
    Treat addictive behavior, such as gambling, through education and prevention rather than punishment. Consider making accommodations in judicial proceedings for students who voluntarily seek help. Additional accommodations for students in recovery may include medical leaves of absence, schedule changes to facilitate off-campus treatment, and withdrawal due to extenuating circumstances.

    Determine whether the health or counseling center can provide information and assistance to students with gambling problems. For off campus treatment options, consult the state departments of mental health, state affiliates of the National Council on Problem Gambling, and the American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders.

    Resources

    Laws
    Gambling Law US

    Gambling and the Law

    Higher Education

    Saint Martin’s University:  Gambling Policies
    University of Missouri-Columbia Wellness Resource Center: Keeping the Score

    West Virginia University, Potomac State College: 
    Self-Help: Gambling
    National Collegiate Athletic Association: 
    Don’t Bet on It


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