Learning the Odds

Player's hand wins," calls out baccarat dealer Meredith Chase '03, as another young woman lets out a whoop and then scans the board, trying to decide where next to place her bet. Not everyone is so lucky at this student-run casino night held over Family Weekend. The house rakes in the chips more often than not, one of the many lessons learned by students in associate professor Emery Trowbridge's casino management course this past fall.

Student rolling dice - Photo by UNH Photographic Services
Students and parents tried their luck at all kinds of games of change at UNH's Casino night in the New England Center. - by UNH Photographic Services

The class studies the history and influence of gambling, the social and economic impact, how games are played and controlled, casino entertainment, cash flow, security and surveillance. A key aspect of the course is the casino night, a lab requirement, for which students begin preparing early in the semester. "It's an intense lab exercise," Trowbridge explains. "It's the only way to drive home exactly what's entailed in running a casino."

The popular event, which Trowbridge has been offering as part of his class for 12 years, is more than fun and games. Gambling is a $60 billion-a-year industry in the U.S., including the lottery and organized gaming. "More people are gambling than ever before," Trowbridge says. "If you put your finger on a map of the U.S., within a few miles you'll find legalized gaming," whether it's bingo at the church hall or a casino run by Native Americans. In fact, Trowbridge notes, the industry has grown so much that soon everyone in the United States will live within two hours of a casino.

Trowbridge expects that students planning careers in hospitality management will either work for a company that also owns or manages casinos, have guests who frequent casinos or be associated with the industry in some other way. The students' one-night casino will give many of them their first look at one of the world's most extensive gaming operations. The proceeds will be used to fund a class trip to Las Vegas. ~

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