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True or False – Is Gambling a Good Way to Pay for School?

Oct 23, 2013

Is this some kind of trick question? The answer is so obvious!

Or is it? Maybe you’ve heard your friend talk about buying a lottery ticket so she doesn’t have to worry about coming up with next semester’s res fees. Or how about the regular Friday night poker player who says if he wins the pot, he could buy all his textbooks instead of putting them on a credit card. Maybe the answer isn’t so black and white after all.

We know it's tough to manage finances when you're a student. You've got limited resources and not a lot of spare time to earn extra cash. But gambling isn't your golden ticket. The bottom line is: gambling establishments, like land-based casinos and online gambling sites, are set up to take in more money than they pay out. This means that, over time, you will generally lose more money than you win. Gambling is not a stable, secure and lucrative way to fund post-secondary education—or anything else for that matter.

And it's not just casinos. All forms of gambling have the same principle—the vast majority of people lose so that a very small minority can win. Sure, everybody has heard of a friend who has a friend who makes money playing poker online. In fact, over the past ten years students have often stopped by the Know the Score display, telling the reps about that one friend who 'always wins'. But keep in mind the majority of players lose much of the time—although they don’t usually admit it to themselves or anybody else.

“I would say that if a student is thinking about making money playing poker, that's a really, really bad idea,” says Nate, a 32-year-old professional poker player. “They're likely to lose money and have it become a bit of a time sink. I knew some kids who did that and they all ended up choosing sitting at home, losing at internet poker, instead of being out doing fun, college-y stuff.”

If you do find yourself in tight financial times, gambling isn't the answer. Most colleges and universities have financial aid departments to help you with student loans, short-term emergency loans or money management advice, like York University, University of Toronto, Confederation College and Lakehead University.

So the answer to the question is simple: If you choose to gamble, set money and time limits, remember to take breaks, never borrow money to gamble and last but certainly not least…don’t use gambling as a way to make money.