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Gambling Away Your Future

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Gambling Away Your Future

Photo from:
www.healthyplace.com

Photo from: www.healthyplace.com

Photo from: www.healthyplace.com

Photo from: www.healthyplace.com

Brystol Bates

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When you think of the dangers and challenges that American teenagers face you think of peer pressure, drugs, or bullying. What you don’t think of is underage gambling, but how wrong you would be to say that it doesn’t exist. While researching I learned that the threat of underage gambling is a prominent one, and more widespread than you would believe. However, with the increase of technology available to teenagers and children, the outstretched hand that is underage gambling has taken hold of more than you think. Unfortunately, it is stated that 2.1 percent of U.S. residents between the ages of 14-21 face a serious gambling problem.

In recent years online gambling has taken off, but what can be expected when almost every child has access to the internet and mobile apps. Many of these apps and websites use fake money to increase chances of winning or to move onto the next level. However, after a child runs out of fake coins they are normally prompted to spend real money to buy more digital coins, and in return they learn bad money management. These negative habits will impact them for years to come and can leave them with large debts and financial instability.

Up to 8 million adults struggle with a gambling addiction, and like drugs and alcohol this addiction is rooted deeply into the brain. Many problem gamblers will often miss work or other deadlines, borrow or steal money from friends and family, and attempt to hide their addiction. Unfortunately, like other addictions, gambling normally starts out at a young age and increases with age. Many adults who struggle with a gambling addiction started out playing in their younger years; studies show that children who gamble by the age of 12 are 4 times more likely to become a problem gambler. Problem gambling can lead to numerous long term consequences. Many gambling addicts could and will face a multitude of financial problems, increased drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and familial discord.

There are many laws that have been passed with the hope to discourage underage gambling. In Missouri it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to gamble or attempt to gamble, the consequences of which can be a fine of up to $500 and a misdemeanor charge, repeat offenders could face a heftier fine or even some jail time. However, while these laws and regulations work well for on site casinos and betting it is hard to regulate online activity. There is a need for better security on online sites, but a parent’s personal diligence will always be the first step to increasing gaming safety.

Some signs of underage gambling include: anxiety, a sudden interest in money and the value of objects, borrowing money from family or friends, missing assignments or skipping school, and substance abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction call 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633) for help. The key to gambling addiction help is the prevention of underage gambling and the education of its dangers to young people. For more information on problem gambling and underage gaming contact the Missouri Gaming Commission at (573) 526-4080 or visit their website at http://www.mgc.dps.mo.gov/

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