Last Sunday’s lopsided Super Bowl was anything but boring for bookies who raked in season-high profits. A good deal of the action came from college students.
“I think everyone I know was betting on New York, so there were some hefty losses,” said junior Nick Irving.
According to “Frank” (name changed to avoid prosecution), operator of a small sports betting enterprise in Maine, his patrons bet around $2,500 on the Giants while putting down only $300 to $400 on the victorious Ravens.
Frank advised novice gamblers to use caution.
“There is a reason why most bookies are answering the phone,” said Frank. “It’s because they either have had or still have a gambling problem, and they need money. (Sports betting) is a game that is very difficult to win at.”
Frank described the downward spiral that led him to enter the gambling business.
“I had a very difficult year last year. I started out betting quarters [$25] and halves [$50] and ended up betting nickels [$500],” said Frank.
According to Frank the problem can be particularly bad on college campuses.
“College students come from all walks of life,” he said. “Some have parents with all kinds of money. Some don’t have two nickels to rub together. You end up getting a lot of bookies around colleges who take advantage.”
“The thing is when some kids get their asses handed to them they don’t have any way of paying it off. I mainly stick to adults,” said Frank.
Many students could have used Frank’s advice on Super Bowl weekend.
“That $20 could have gone to anything else,” said Jason Bianchi, freshman. “I’m low on money anyways.”
Like many other college students Bianchi could not resist betting on the year’s biggest game. Even those who rarely bet were swept up in the excitement. Junior Peet Chamberlain, who described himself as an infrequent gambler, lost a small amount of money betting in a pool with friends.
“It was fun. We were trying to figure out how they could get the score we needed to win,” said Chamberlain.
Tyler, a USM student who asked that only his first name be used, frequents online sports betting sites. He agreed with Chamberlain.
“Betting on a game makes it more exciting. Especially if you’ve got a couple of teams playing that you don’t really care about,” he said.
Tyler bet on the Giants to win the Super Bowl early in the season. At 45-to-1 odds a New York win would have handed Tyler a $450 pay off on his $10 bet. Still, he takes the loss in stride.
“It would have been a nice bonus if it had come in, but I wasn’t counting on it,” he said.
Tyler advises fellow gamblers to only bet what they can afford to lose.
“With gambling you will eventually lose.”
Staff writer John McCarthy can be contacted at [email protected].