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Does Riverside pose trouble for UI students?
 
Mike Deupree

The Gazette

September 3, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Gazette.]



  Should Iowans be concerned about the effect of the new Riverside casino on students at the University of Iowa, only about 20 minutes away?

  Sure, but it would be a mistake to worry too much about students being lured to the gaming tables, gambling away their money instead of hitting the books.

  Students who are prone to that kind of irresponsibility have been able to find ways to demonstrate it for years without the presence of a casino.

  In my case, an obsession with duplicate bridge cost me at least one extra year of college. My roommates were really outstanding players, national championship caliber. A group of us got into the habit of playing in a duplicate game somewhere every day of the week.

  It turned out that cutting a lot of classes and not studying the materials had a negative effect on grades. Imagine that.

  A lot of students choose to party excessively. Others waste hour upon hour surfing the Internet. A few become mimes. There is no shortage of wrong turns to take on the road of life.

  Human nature being what it is, the casino will seduce a number of students who are not tempted by other diversions. This is likely to be especially true in the first few months because of the novelty effect.

  But generally speaking, students with a proclivity to goof off will find a way to do it, and students who are serious about their education will resist this new temptation as they have resisted others.

  As for those who already are feeding the gambling bug, it might take them longer to lose the rent money at a casino than it takes in online poker tournaments and other gambling opportunities available in cyberspace.

  At least in a casino, you have to handle real chips, which gives you a little more sense of what youíre doing than clicking on a computer icon.

  And how about other gambling venues? It isnít as if gambling was impossible for Eastern Iowans before Riverside. If a person has a strong urge to gamble ó which is, after all, the kind of people weíre worrying about here ó is he or she going to care much if the casino is 90 minutes away instead of 20 minutes?

  Another point that should be considered is that minors will have a difficult time getting into the casinos and may well decide to stay in town and drink in Iowa City, where being underage doesnít seem to be much of a problem.

  Since most students are under 21, that tends to limit the effect of the casino on undergraduates.

  Finally, why does everybody have such a low opinion of the average UI student?

  I donít remember anybody expressing any worries about what effect a casino at Prairie Meadows might have on students at Iowa State and Drake. Is it simply assumed that students who choose to go to Ames or Des Moines are by definition more mature and have better judgment than the ones who choose to go to school in Iowa City?

  Probably not, but I thought it was worth mentioning.