Gambling for Grades: Newest Game on Campus - NBC New York

Gambling for Grades: Newest Game on Campus

Website pays money for wagers on grades



    A new website could get college students to boost their grades, and their bottom line, depending on how they bet. (Published Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010)

    In elementary school if you got good grades you might get some extra cash from your parents. In college, cash for good grades might come from -- your bookie?

    In the newest on campus phenomenon, college students are trying to make their grades pay off by enrolling in the website, The better your grade, the more money you can make.

    As one NYU student put it, it could "give kids more of an incentive to work harder."

    The website is headed by Steven Wolf, out of an office in Cedarhurst, Long Island. He told us customers have to deposit a minimum of twenty dollars. It calculates your odds based on students' previous transcripts, and the difficulty of each class.

    For example, if someone deposited a hundred dollars into their account and "he does well and he gets his target grade, then he's gonna get two hundred dollars. If not, he loses the one hundred dollars that he gave us originally," Wolf explained.

    But because the folks at Ultrinsic needed to figure out how each school determines its grade, and how difficult each class is, they initially allowed students at only two schools to enroll: New York University and the University of Pennsylvania.

    Wolf told us six hundred students signed up over the course of the last year. Beginning with the upcoming Fall semester though, the program expands to include thirty-six schools, including St. John's University.

    Wolf insists, however, that the website is not about gambling. Ultrinsic is careful to call each payment an "incentive." Wolf explained that he believes "gambling in general is a chance-based thing and this is not chance-based. Because if a student has the acumen to do well and studies hard and is motivated properly, then they can definitely do well in school."

    But NYU graduate student Zac Schwartz-Weinstein disagrees with the concept of the site, saying "the website itself sounds fairly messed up".

    New York University didn't return our call asking for a comment the website. A spokesman for St. John's University in Queens told us, "we know nothing about it nor would we ever get involved in anything that promotes gambling."

    Wolf says the beta site is "just in the start-up phase... but yes, we do see potential."