College debates blocking online gambling sites on campus

DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa., hosted a forum Wednesday to discuss online gambling on campus. The discussion turned into a debate leading to students saying they would fight it if the school chose to block gambling Web sites on campus.

The 90-minute forum gave students and faculty a chance to discuss online gambling, an issue which has had positive and negative results for students across the nation.

In some cases, there are college students who make a living and may even be able to pay their tuition from playing online poker. But, there are also cases like that of Greg Hogan Jr., former sophomore class president at Lehigh University, who was given prison time for a bank robbery he committed to help cover his online gambling debts.

After hearing about Hogan's case, the forum moderator posed the question of whether the school should crack down and block all computers from accessing gambling sites on campus.

The panel for the debate, hosted by the DeSales' Salesian Center for Faith and Culture, seemed to be heavily against gambling which seemed to indicate a support for blocking access at the school. DeSales economics professor Amy Scott spoke about how risky and unregulated online gambling is, while Representative Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) said he's sponsoring legislation to stop it all-together.

Greg Hogan Sr. was also on hand to talk about his son's situation and to put in his plea that stricter limits are needed on campuses.

One student who spoke up at the forum was Vince Coglianese, who was president of his freshman class at the school and who also spent a lot of time playing poker on play money practice sites. He argued that individual freedom and intellectual diversity were at stake in the issue, and students should be allowed to become adults and make their own decisions on things like gambling, pornography, or other illicit Web sites.

Gary Muth of Whitehall Township, Pa., who is a member of the Poker Players Alliance, also spoke up in defense of online poker, posing the question "It's my money. Shouldn't I be able to spend it the way I want?"

Probably the most important opinion came after the forum. Rev. Bernard O'Connor, the DeSales president, said that he's not in favor of prohibition for things like online gambling. He said he's open to discussion on the subject if everyone else thinks differently, but was adamant about his position.

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