Have you ever wished that you could gamble on school grades to see whether you could get an A in a course? A new website called Ultrinsic.com, which is currently in beta, is letting students at select universities do just that. They also offer "grade insurance," in case you fail a course. The site originally offered its services at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania, but now plans to expand to 34 new campuses, including Princeton University, Duke University, and Stanford University.
CEO Steven Wolf told the Associated Press that the wagers are an incentive to study, and denied that it constituted online gambling because the wagers are based on skill. Wolf said that the site works similar to Las Vegas sportsbooks, by selling odds on a student's ability to achieve different levels.
Of course there is the question of whether such a service is legal. USA Today reports that Ultrinsic co-founder and president Jeremy Gelbart says that it is legal and the service improves student performance using incentives. "This is not in the same category [as gambling] it's completely in the student's control," Gelbart said. "There are elements of chance, but if you study harder, you'll do well."
The Department of Justice has said that "all forms of Internet gambling, including sports wagering, casino games and card games, are illegal." But like most things, there is a gray area. Poker players have long contended that poker is a game of skill not chance, and poker is therefore not gambling. The legal issue remains unsettled, but individual poker players have not been prosecuted for playing online.
Whether it comes to poker or betting on grades, the area of law remains murky, in the end, only a court will be able settle the matter.