Officials look at gambling on campus

Jessica Rothschuh

University officials are discussing on-campus gambling.

“At some point, we’ll probably develop a statement that will be sent out,” said Greg Jarvie, dean of students and student ombuds. He declined to elaborate on what such a statement might say.

“We’re in conversation now with other administrators to more or less assess what the gambling issue on campus is,” Jarvie said. “We are simply in the assessment phase.”

Daniel FitzPatrick, assistant chief of the Kent State Police Department, said he and Jarvie had informally discussed the topic of on-campus gambling in the past week, and it has come up more often in the past couple years.

“We had a discussion and nothing has changed,” FitzPatrick said.

State law prohibits types of gambling in which money is given to one or more persons for facilitating gambling. The Ohio Revised Code reads: “No person shall receive any commission, wage, salary, reward, tip, donation, gratuity or other form of compensation, directly or indirectly, for operating or assisting in the operation of any game of chance.”

This does not mean all forms of gambling are illegal, FitzPatrick said. The law allows for friendly games of chance.

“A friendly game of poker between individuals, if not conducted for profit” is legal, FitzPatrick said. “The courts have ruled that ‘for profit’ means that the house takes a certain percentage of the winnings.”

This means money can legally exchange hands in a friendly game of chance as long as a third entity does not take a cut of the winnings.

Special exemptions also exist for what are loosely referred to as “charitable organizations” to hold raffles, gambling tournaments and similar events to raise money. The organizations must file for and be granted 501(c)(3) status in order to fall under this category.

Currently, the only mention of gambling in any of the university’s official rules and regulations is in two sentences in the Hallways handbook. The statement, under the heading “Gambling/Raffles,” reads: “Any form of gambling and raffles are prohibited in university residence halls. Gambling is a direct violation of state law.”

The handbook offers no definition of gambling, and it is not clear whether this rule refers to any game of chance played for profit or only to those which are prohibited by law.

“I am personally not going to run around to every hall to see if guys are playing poker,” said Jarvie. “I’d hope students are mature enough to realize the difference between a friendly game of cards and a game in which they are over their heads.”

Contact news correspondent Jessica Rothschuh at [email protected].