Over the past several months I received highly specialized training on gambling addiction. The Council on Compulsive Gambling conducts these trainings. This group provides trainings to therapists like myself and also runs the 1-800-GAMBLERS number where they link people seeking help to services. This training was quite timely as sports gambling was legalized in New […]
Over the past several months I received highly specialized training on gambling addiction. The Council on Compulsive Gambling conducts these trainings. This group provides trainings to therapists like myself and also runs the 1-800-GAMBLERS number where they link people seeking help to services.
This training was quite timely as sports gambling was legalized in New Jersey in mid-2018. The main arguments for legalization were increased tax revenue and attracting new businesses.
In June 2018 Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that legalized sports betting in New Jersey. Proponents of the legalization of sports gambling argued that it would attract new businesses to New Jersey and increase tax revenue. This article is not meant to explore the merits of those arguments or turn back time to stop the legalization of sports gambling. In this article we will explore youth gambling.
What Parents Need to Know
I have a large extended family who gets together often. I remember as a child going to Uncle Mike’s house or Uncle Bill’s house for family get togethers. We would all have dinner and then inevitably start to play penny poker. It would be loud, rambunctious and exciting.
Every Christmas morning as a child my brothers and I would race downstairs to open presents. My family always started with our stockings which hung over the fireplace. Inside would be some chocolate, socks, and a couple of scratch-offs.
In graduate school instructors briefly cover gambling. Gambling at ages 10 or 11 may seem harmless but it is not. Studies have shown that children introduced to gambling before the age of 12 are four times more likely to develop into problem gamblers.
Common forms of gambling among youth include poker and scratch-offs. Loot boxes in video games are also a real issue among the youth but we have a separate post about that.
By the time kids get to high school and college they can start to access online gambling and traditional casinos for gambling.
Most people who gamble will never develop a problem with gambling. But for those who do the consequences can be devastating.
Some statistics associated with problem gambling:
- Roughly 50% of problem gamblers commit crimes to either get money to gamble with or pay off their debt
- Over 80% of problem gamblers were at risk for alcohol or drug abuse
- Individuals with problem gambling have the highest rates of suicide ideation and attempts among individuals with addictive disorders
- Approximately 50% of problem gamblers will contemplate suicide
- Up to 20% of problem gamblers will attempt suicide
What Should I Do If My Child Is Gambling?
This article and the other articles on gambling are not meant to cause a panic. The majority of youths and young adults who gamble will not develop into problem gamblers. However the adverse effects are so high (suicide attempts, crime, financial destruction) that we need to discuss this issue with parents. Read our other articles on gambling. We do not want to tell you how to raise your children but just consider some of the research next time you go to give your young child scratch-off tickets. You can always reach out to us here at the New Jersey Family and Addiction Institute if you have concerns or would like a consultation.