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March 12, 2018 | by  | in From the Archives Opinion |
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From the Archives

Students are always looking for a chance to suss a bit of extra coin wherever they can. Popular methods include maintaining gainful employment (low-risk, low-reward), cashing out course-related costs for “travel” (medium-risk, medium-reward), and getting money from wealthy relatives (low-risk, high-reward).

But for the real high rollers among us who are looking to make their fortune before they’ve even left uni, there’s always gambling. In 1964, Salient reported that Richard Smith, Chairman of the House Committee at Victoria University, informed the Executive Committee they needed to take action on the issue of gambling on campus. Smith had watched, horrified, as a group of freshers gambled at cards in the Common Room. He’d been unable to figure out the exact rules of their game, but alleged that one student had come out £100 lighter after a particularly high stakes round.

That is a staggering amount of money to lose in a game of cards. For perspective, in today’s money that’s $4106.79. That could pay for: 977 flat whites at Vic Books; 10.6% of my student loan; the money I owe in fines to the draconian institution that is the VUW library, 68 times over; or one required course text. (I had to check my student loan balance for the first time in like a year to write this story. I do not recommend doing this).

Fortunately, our unlucky student may have caught a break:

“Publications Officer Tom March said that gamblers were not legally compelled to pay their debts and could not be sued for them. This should be publicised, he suggested in the hope it would help to curb gambling.”

The issue of gambling on campus, which contravened Rule 9 of the Victoria University discipline regulations, continued however. In 1966, a reporter for Salient busted a card game again being played in the common room:

[Accompanied by photo]

‘“You might as well admit it, you’re gambling aren’t you?” said a Salient reporter to this group of card players in the common room some days ago.

They agreed that they were, and threw money (picture above) on the table which they said represented their stakes.

These 1966 games don’t seem to have reached the dizzying heights of their 1964 predecessor. The highest amount in the pot was rumoured to be £10, and hands were usually played for about £2. Hardly Casino Royale.

But it’s not an insignificant sum either, which brings me to the Public Service Announcement portion of the column: gambling is roundly a very bad idea, and you are statistically assured to lose money doing it. Please do not spend any money on a game of chance that you can’t afford to lose. Is this the kind of wholesome message that will keep you tuning into “From the Archives” for weeks to come? I sure hope so.

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