There is always a sense of pride when you graduate college on the course of your choice. While there are different levels of prestige on college courses, a good number of college students fail to get a college degree. For this reason, regardless of course or degree you have earned, being able to finish college is an accomplishment you should be proud of. After all, a college degree is more of earned rather than given.
Stephen McDaniel, a professor from the University of Maryland, is currently offering a course that is gaining publicity, with a mix of good and bad reactions from the people that hear the title of the course that is being offered.
"Gambling in the New Millennium," is the name of course that is currently being offered. While the name is quite catchy, it does warrant many questions to be answered, particularly from those who are not familiar with the contents of the course along with its overall purpose. Most people ask if the professor will be teaching students how to gamble. "No!" says McDaniel.
He explains that those who take his course will get to know and understand more the wide-range of gambling and the gambling world. Students will become more informed on the chances and statistics of different gambling forms as compared to older gamblers who have no overall comprehension of the chances and risks they take when they gamble on a particular form, like lottery, races, and casinos.
The course covers different frameworks of gambling along with their history, the business of gambling, as well as the dangers involved in gambling. Included within the course are screening of great movies with plots on gambling.
Aside from studying gambling, there will also be guest speakers who will lecture the students on gambling. Recently, the COO of Stronach Group, Tim Ritvo, has lectured on thoroughbred horseracing and the horse racing industry, both in Maryland and that of beyond the Free State. He also recruited speakers from the American Gaming Association to talk about and discuss important aspects involved in American gaming.
The course "Gambling in the New Millennium" is an I-series of academic offerings by the university. Its approach to the course is in-depth exploration and examination of specific gambling topics and its various aspects.
"In the case of this course, gambling can be used as a prism to view economics, religion, government, public policy, public health, marketing, consumer behaviors -- so many different things," McDaniel said. "For the average 18- to 20-year-old, mention the word history and their eyes glaze over. But start with a subject that they are already interested in, and you immediately have their attention."
McDaniel has taught this course for the third time in the most recent spring semester. The course has 80 students and a wait list.
What do the students learn when they take this course?
The course essentially covers of gaming in America. McDaniel discusses a variety of gambling forms and mediums like lotteries, horse betting, casino gambling, sports wagering, poker, and other gaming landscapes, both live and online.
The professor covers how gaming operators gain clients; how they cash-in on loyalty programs by analyzing customer habits; how harmful and damaging gambling addiction has become on some individuals; how it can be a stimuli for the brain; and how problem gambling creates a financial and social impact on their gambling addiction. Many of the subjects and topics covered are reinforced by guest speakers who are subject matter experts in the gaming world.
"What research has told us is that generally 1 to 3 percent of people are susceptible to developing a gambling problem, but that triples for this demographic," McDaniel said, referring to those who are at college age.
In a recent class on the causes and effects of problem gaming, students had subjectively discussed the matter stringently. Apparently, in most cases of problem gaming issues, the persons afflicted by the addiction have had previous exposures to gambling, whether it is just betting coins on card games or poker matches with friends, relatives, or acquaintances.
"I have three older brothers, and they all watch sports and bet a little, and my father enjoys poker," said economic course major, Grace Hutchinson. "What surprised me was when we had the speakers come in [from the gaming industry] -- I was expecting these big, imposing guys, and they were just regular people. Actually, I found that a little reassuring," she added.
There were also stereotypes dispelled in class.
"It was surprising to find out that the problem gamblers who lose the most money are the ones who could least afford it," said kinesiology course major, Andrew Gounaris. He also added, "You figure that people who gamble away $200,000 have $200,000 to lose, but that's not it. It's people losing that kind of money who can't afford it."
Finance and international business major freshman, Ryan Goldberg, was not expecting the overall scope of gambling addiction, and how certain individuals develop into compulsive gamblers from stimuli that gives them a high from the gambling rush.
"I've never felt that I absolutely had to play poker or had to get a lineup in [in daily fantasy sports] . . . It was surprising to me that people are playing for [motives] that go beyond the money," said Goldberg.
Marketing major freshman, Tom Kowalsky said, "I was impressed by the marketing that goes into it -- how the lottery and casinos target customers and gear their advertising to different people."
McDaniel says that even though he teaches a gambling course, he is not in the position to justify to his students whether gambling is good or bad. However, since problem gambling has become prevalent in our current society, the professor considers greatly - students in particular - the importance of understanding the activity and the industry as much as possible. The immense impact of gambling addiction, both economically and culturally, has become a modern day problem that affects the lives of millions. It is not only a mental and psychological issue for those who are affected by gambling addition, but the problem also extends to public safety and health concerns.
"My job isn't to tell students what to think . . . but rather what to think about," said McDaniel.
In the future, should the gambling course students somehow end up gaming in a casino, if they are able to recall the lessons on games, they would have distinct idea on what their chances are in the game. They should be able to identify games where winning can be a matter of skill such as in poker, or that of chance from random outcome games like roulette.
Jared Ungar, a freshman from the university said,
University freshman Jared Ungar said, "Overall, I think I'd be a smarter gambler.
"Today, when we looked at problem gambling, that showed that if you're not a smart gambler, there can be a lot of different consequences," he added.