South Florida Gambling

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Problem gambling: Florida colleges get a plan

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling today announced measures to identify college problem gamblers and quickly get them help.

"By the time the problem is recognized, they have already put their education and future on the line," council executive director Pat Fowler said.

The University of South Florida recently studied 2,300 students at seven Florida campuses and learned 5 percent were problem gamblers, four times the rate of the general adult population in Florida. The university followed the American Psychiatric Association's definition of pathological gambling, which is "persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behavior."

The most popular form of gambling for college students is poker.

"Many students play on free internet sites where they are bolstered by winning, only to find themselves in over their heads when they begin playing on sites for money," Fowler said. "With free time and plentiful computer access on campus, students, especially males, may find themselves spending hours playing at online sites instead of in class or doing class work."

The program, called Students Against Gambling Addiction, is being implemented at Florida colleges, Fowler said. Recommendations include techniques to help adults and residence hall counselors recognize problem gamblers, a greater presence for the state's gambling hotline and a suggestion that universities not sanction on-campus gambling activities such as poker tournaments and casino nights.

In order to ensure that each college would cooperate, the study purposely didn't break down the numbers down by institution, Fowler said. (Which I agree with: You could imagine one school using the data against another for recruitment.)

For more information, call 1-888-ADMIT-IT.

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Maybe you've made the right play, maybe you haven't. Your heart speeds up, your stomach rumbles.

That's why it's called gambling.

ACTION is a view of the numbers, the psychology and the flavor of gambling here in South Florida, through our lens.

We do have one sure bet. There's something here for you.

NICK SORTAL began playing 3-card "gut" and "Indian poker" on high school band trips, moved on to "night baseball" and "pass the trash" during a Dr. Pepper-infused midnight game in the 1980s at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and now play in a regular neighborhood Hold 'Em game in Plantation. I have been given the assignment of writing about the gambling life in South Florida casinos for the Sun-Sentinel...which means sitting around watching poker on TV now counts as research.
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