At FSU, gamblers lose

Campus gambling policy may hit Magic: the gathering
Does FSU's gambling policy extend to games of Magic: The Gathering? (photo by Andrés Aguiluz Rios)

By Corey Olivier
Have you read FSU’s Student Handbook lately? If you haven’t, you may not have noticed a subtle yet significant change to the school’s policy against gambling.
Two years ago, the policy simply read “Gambling is not allowed.” However, according to Robert Hynes, assistant dean of student support services and author of the revised policy, this one-line policy contradicted some of the school’s own activities.
“According to the old policy, school-organized functions such as bingo nights or raffles wouldn’t be allowed,” said Hynes. “The new policy protects us from hypocrisy.”
So what exactly does the new gambling policy prohibit? The new policy broadly bans any “illegal gambling,” including betting on athletic events, playing card games for money (in person or online), involvement in bookmaking activities, using college property (such as phones and Internet servers) for illegal gambling, and any kind of online gambling.
Perhaps the most important part of this new policy is where it states, “Examples include, but are not limited to” the aforementioned activities. This essentially means that any other gambling activity that is not specifically mentioned in the policy could still be subject to review by college administrators if brought to their attention by a resident assistant or any other member of the university staff.
This could pose a potential problem for students who play trading-card games. For instance, in the popular card game Magic: The Gathering, it isn’t uncommon for each player to set an “ante” of desirable cards at the beginning of the match, and whoever wins gets to keep all the cards.
This may not seem quite as significant as playing for cold hard cash, until you realize that some collectible trading cards can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The new policy against gambling distinctly prohibits “illegal gambling,” but mentions nothing about loss of valuable, non-monetary property in a legal wager.
This begs the question: Was the new policy enacted to protect the university or the students?
“Ideally, it’s to protect the students from potentially destructive behavior,” said Hynes. “But we also had to keep the university from contradicting itself.”
This seems to hold true, as the new policy also includes contact information for the Counseling Services office and the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling.
Hynes said that there have been very few problems with illegal gambling on campus, though the specifics cannot be released to the public. Still, until an actual case of gambling not mentioned in the policy is brought before an administrator, we won’t really know exactly how far the bounds of the new policy reach.