Sports gambling spreads among student body

Trevor Maxim | Staff Writer

There is a prevalence of unorganized sports betting between casual fans, among which are Mason High School students who place wagers on sporting events of all types. These students participate in sports betting without ever stepping foot in a casino or logging on to an online gambling site, where most gambling takes place.

One active gambler at MHS is senior Kasim Ahmad, who said that he frequently puts money on events that are of interest to him, including both college and professional basketball and football games.

“I bet on the Bengals almost every week,” Ahmad said. “Usually, [I bet] no more than $20 –usually $5-$10 per game — but I lost $100 on the Bengals versus the Jets game to one person.”

Because he bets often, Ahmad said he has a series of criteria that he uses to determine whether to place a bet on games, including looking at aspects of the teams such as skill level and quality of players.

“I usually pick a competitive [game], two teams that are pretty similar and just who I think is going to win based on particular things in the game,” Ahmad said. “Or, if I think there’s going to be an upset, and I think I can get someone to bet me a lot of money on an upset, I take the underdog.”

Ahmad said one of his frequent betting opponents is senior Andy Aylmore, who said that Ahmad’s gambling tactics are usually predictable.

“[Ahmad] always bets on the Bengals, whether he thinks they’ll win or not,” Aylmore said.

Junior Carson Craig, who said that he bets against Ahmad as well, said he has also noticed Ahmad’s tendency to consistently favor the Bengals in wagers. Craig said he uses this fact to give himself a competitive advantage over Ahmad.

“[I bet on] whoever the Bengals play, because [the Bengals] are just going to lose,” Craig said.

Due in part to this consistency in strategy, Aylmore said that over time he has won more of his wagers against Ahmad than he has lost. The success has resulted in a significant profit, according to Aylmore, which has accumulated gradually over time.

“I’ve definitely made money [overall] against [Ahmad],” Aylmore said. “I usually get up a lot on him and I feel bad, [so] I just cut [his debt] down. He currently owes me $45, I think.”

Craig said he has also been successful the majority of the time when betting against Ahmad, with gambles that have at times included consequences differing from ordinary wagers with money as the prize.

“[Ahmad] owes me $30 right now, and I’ve gotten a guitar off him because he owed me so much,” Craig said.

Sophomore Will Hirst said he prefers betting with his friends using pranks as the outcome, where they create something undesirable for their opponent to do as a replacement for cash.

“[Our bets] are not necessarily dollar amounts; it’s more like prank amounts,” Hirst said. “I had to dress up like a gothic kid with eyeliner [one] Friday because I lost a bet.”

Hirst said another memorable bet he made involved one of his friends changing his Facebook statuses after losing. Because Hirst said the pranks can get extreme, he and his friends have to take steps to ensure that the results of the wagers are enforced.

“We make contracts,” Hirst said. “These include all the terms and conditions [of the bet] — such as, you have to dress stupid, facebook statuses, etc. And you have to sign it.”

Ahmad said he has also bet with a variety of things other than money, including personal favors and services for those who defeat him.

“I lost a bet to my uncle, and I had to be his caddy for 18 holes [of golf] and then babysit his kids,” Ahmad said.

Although it comes in many forms, gambling has often been the subject of heated debate, including the recent casino gambling issue on Ohio’s ballots. What goes unnoticed, however, is the betting that occurs on a smaller scale between friends, such as Ahmad, Aylmore and Craig.

Ahmad said he is aware of the controversy associated with sports gambling, which he said stems from fears of habit formation and financial irresponsibility. Ahmad said, however, that he thinks he can handle the risks that come with the activity.

“[Betting] is probably pretty bad,” Ahmad said. “[But], I think I have a pretty good understanding of what risks I can take and what I can’t.”

Aylmore said he can see the possibility of gambling becoming harmful for him, financially and socially, but does not believe that it currently is, given his success rate.

“I’m not worried about [gambling] now, because I always win, against [Ahmad],” Aylmore said. “But it could be [a bad habit] in the future.”

Craig said that instead of looking at sports gambling as a financial risk, he sees it as more of an opportunity — a substitute for the traditional part-time employment that most teenagers seek.

“I don’t have a job, so [sports betting] is my way to make money,” Craig said. “It’s a lifestyle. I’m a future professional gambler.”

Want to see this story in print?