By YANAN CHEN
Capital News Service
LANSING—About three-quarters of college students in the United States gambled during the past year, with about 18 percent gambling weekly or more often, according to the National Center for Responsible Gaming.
But the prevalence of gambling hasn’t triggered a flood of student requests for professional advice to control their habit, Michigan campus experts said.
Tom Liszewski, a counselor at Ferris State University, said, “Not a lot of students come to our center for counseling about gambling.”
For students who do need help for a gambling problem, Liszewski said he talks about “love, livelihood, legal and health” standards to judge if it has already affected their lives.
“We will discuss with them whether the gambling problem affects their relationship with parents and boyfriends or girlfriends.” That is what “love” means.
“Livelihood means that the students spend time gambling and don’t have time to study, which should be their priority,” he said.
He added that gambling can also hurt students’ health.
Liszewski listed five stages of gambling addiction. The first is precontemplation, which means people don’t yet acknowledge that they need to change their behavior.
The second stage is contemplation, which means people are aware of the problem but are not ready or are unsure about wanting to change.
He added that most of his clients are in the second stage. “Some students came here because their parents or friends told them they had a gambling problem, and they started to acknowledge that and came to us.”
The other three stages are preparation, which means getting ready to change; action, which means they’re changing their behavior; and maintenance, which means they’re continuing their changed behavior.
“If we find that they had a severe problem, we would recommend that they go to the Gamblers Anonymous meetings in our community,” he said. “We don’t have these kinds of meetings at our university, but it’s good for them to attend.”
He emphasized that the best way to prevent students from becoming addicted to gambling is to make them pay attention to other meaningful activities, such as cooking, exercising, listening to music and going to religious services.
Ed Huebner, a senior counselor at the Counseling and Psychological Service at University of Michigan, said, “When students come to us, we discuss how much money they spent on gambling and what motivates them to gamble to judge how severe their problems are.
“We have specialist staff who deals with addiction,” he said. If the addiction is severe enough, students are referred to community meetings.
There are no Gamblers Anonymous groups at U-M, but the community has some, he added.
According to Gamblers Anonymous, Michigan has more than 44 meetings every week. Some are only for people with gambling problems, and others also welcome gamblers’ spouses, families and friends to attend.
Locations include Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Ann Arbor, Marquette and Jackson.
Lotteries, card games, charitable small stakes gambling, sports betting and games of skill are college students’ most frequently chosen activities, according to Collegegambling.org, operated by the National Center for Responsible Gaming in Washington, D.C.
Although gambling is popular on campuses, only 22 percent of U.S. colleges and universities have formal policies on gambling, according to the organization.
U-M, Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Eastern Michigan and Michigan Technological universities are among those with written policies that prohibit student gambling on campus.
Collegegambling.org also said student athletes and sports fans gamble more than other students.
Ann Vollano, assistant athletic director at U-M, said she and a colleague did a study that showed the three most popular gambling activities for student athletes are casinos, slot or other gambling machines, and playing cards for money.
© 2011, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.