UT hosts anti-gambling seminar
There's an old saying about getting it straight from the horse's mouth.
Student-athletes and coaches at The University of Texas got a message straight from the horse's mouth concerning a problem that is growing throughout America -- gambling.
The University of Texas Athletics Department's compliance office hosted a seminar on gambling and sports featuring Michael Franzese. A frequent lecturer on college campuses who shares his frank and first-hand accounts, Franzese held two sessions with UT student-athletes on Tuesday evening and one session with UT coaches and the general public on Wednesday.
A former capo in New York's Colombo organized crime family, Franzese is an NCAA-approved speaker who shared his experiences in which he masterminded a gambling operation that brought in an estimated $6 to $8 million a week. He offered a seminar very similar to the one he has given on behalf of the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League baseball, as well as over 200 colleges and universities.
"There's so much more to it than kids think," Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds said. "To have him come in and tell the other side opens the window and lets all the information in for what kids can do, and what is happening out there that impacts sports, such as Internet gambling. To hear someone talk about it from that side, it puts a lot of reality into it."
Franzese made his case very clear about the dangers of Internet gambling.
"None of the Internet gambling sites are run out of the United States, because it is illegal," Franzese said. "They are run out of places like Costa Rica and Antigua. They are unregulated, and if you gamble on the Internet nothing good can happen. You are just asking to be a victim of identity theft, and if you win there is no guarantee you will get your money. If one of these operations has a bad week, rather than pay their losses, they just close shop and move on."
Franzese believes it is important for student-athletes and coaches to understand the connection between gambling and the entities that run the operations.
"Most gambling is illegal," Franzese said. "The numbers came out that $7 billion was wagered legally on the NFL Super Bowl at Las Vegas casinos. It is likely that $100 billion was wagered illegally in on Internet sites and other operations."
Franzese's seminar went into the depths of the gambling underworld and he provided student-athletes with an idea of how they are often targeted for scams.
"The message coming from a person who has been in his position says a lot," defensive lineman Frank Okam said. "It was his job. It was his life. Some of the stories he told us were so real, you can see his credibility and his authority on the situation. You could see how easy it is to get involved. He did a great job, and he was very candid and very open and honest and told us straight up what was going on."
Once thought of as a male problem, gambling, much like eating disorders that were once likened to just one gender, is a unisexual addiction. Franzese enlighted his audiences with staggering numbers like the fact that 32,000 women and 29,000 men in Oregon are currently addicted to the now legal activity of video poker and classified as compulsive gamblers.
"I am glad he's speaking out," women's soccer player Kelsey Carpenter said. "He said in the past when he gives speeches, people are touched by what he says. Whether it's a mom or cousin or friend, he always encourages them because he's experienced it. He made it very clear that his door was open to anyone who had questions."