The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Student earns $15,000 from online gaming


Senior Max Athorn meets with friends once a week for a game of poker, certainly not an unusual occurrence at UW-Eau Claire or elsewhere.

“It’s a social game. You can sit and talk while you play,” he said. “There’s a certain (strategic) advantage . when you know someone personally.”

However, the rise of online gaming in recent years has sent gamblers to the Internet, where 24-hour accessibility greatly increases the risk of addiction, said Ed Ramsey, an addiction counselor and gambling consultant at First Things First, 2125 Heights Dr.

Junior finance major Aaron Bieck said he usually spends three to four hours each day gambling online.

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He said the appeal of online gambling to him is its strategic business aspect. By analyzing risk and playing off others’ mistakes, Bieck has made nearly $15,000 in profit since he began gambling online about three years ago. His earnings allowed him to pay for a lot of his tuition and rent expenses, Bieck said.

Bieck said many online gamblers make poor decisions during games. Their desire to win leads them to take risks that continually result in significant financial loss, he said.

“Some of those people win the first few times they play and think they’re good, but they haven’t played enough hands to know how good they are,” Bieck said. “They don’t understand they’re not very good players because they’ve won a few times before.

“You have to be able to understand yourself under pressure. Some nights I take risks I know I shouldn’t because I just want to have a little fun,” he said. “It’s so easy to play too high of stakes because it’s just a click of the mouse . instead of pushing chips into a pot, which is a physical thing.”

Ramsey said school demands, stress, new experiences, loneliness and peer pressure provide an ideal environment for students to develop addictions.

“The university environment is conducive to some of this stuff,” Ramsey said. “When you’re under a lot of stress, (gambling) is a good distraction.”

Congress passed legislation in October 2006 preventing online gaming companies from making credit card transactions with U.S. citizens. It did not deny citizens the right to gamble online and Bieck said there are many lenient sites that circumvent the rules.

One technique many online gamblers use, he said, is transferring money from a personal bank account to a debit or credit card that can then be used as payment on the site. Because of the secondary transaction, online gaming sites are technically not transacting directly with the gamer, Bieck said.

“There are limitations,” he said. “But there’s always a way around them.”

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Student earns $15,000 from online gaming