On Ultrinsic college students can gamble on their grades

Photo of a report card.

Students can now bet on their own grades. CC by amboo who?/Flickr

Ultrinsic, a New York-based Web company, is helping college students to achieve better grades by giving them a platform where they can wager on their own good grades. From betting on top grades to delving into “grade insurance” against failure, Ultrinsic gives students the opportunity to put their money where their grades are.

Ultrinsic CEO says this isn’t online gambling

Considering the illegality of online gambling in the U.S., Ultrinsic CEO Steven Wolf is understandably vehement in claiming that his company does not promote it. He told the Associated Press that “betting on grades” is inaccurate, in the sense that skill are involved, as opposed to luck. It isn’t gambling, he says, but a platform where students can inspire themselves by investing in the future of their academic career.

“The students have 100 percent control over it, over how they do. Other people’s stuff you bet on – your own stuff you invest in,” said Wolf to the Associated Press. “Everything’s true about it; I’m just trying to say that the underlying concept is a little bit more than just making a bet – it’s actually an incentive.”

How Ultrinsic does it

College students is 18 or older are eligible to register for the inspirational “gaming” service. Odds are tabulated based upon the student’s past academic history. Based upon data provided by participating colleges, odds are also affected by specific course information. Initial wagers cap at $25, but future wagers can be higher, based upon customer activity. At this time, there are 36 colleges available for business in the Ultrinsic network.

Isn’t this still gambling?

Skeptics like I. Nelson Rose of Whittier Law School in California are skeptical of services like Ultrinsic, even though it doesn’t specifically meet the classic definition of gambling in that it doesn’t revolve around total chance, fees and a prize at the end. Grades can be influenced by random instructor proclivities outside the student’s control. But in most cases, grade responsibility is squarely in the hands of the student. This means that skill is the primary factor, rather than luck.

Wolf understands that variables can exist in the grading equation. Yet the study efforts of students keep Ultrinsic out of the realm of chance-based gambling. “The biggest variable is how much effort the student wants to put in,” said chief executive Wolf. “In general, if anybody would study 10 hours a day consistently for one class, they would get whatever grade they wanted to get.”

More on this topic

Associated Press


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