Teen Gambling on the Rise in New York

The lottery may be illegal for the under eighteen crowd, but 43% of 7th to 12th graders surveyed in New York said that they had played some New York lotto game in the past year. That means lottery or scratchers. A recent survey by the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services suggested that ten percent of teens in the group of interviewees have engaged in problem gambling and that fully another ten percent are at risk for problem gambling.

Teenage gambling is a serious problem because teenagers often have unrealistic expectations. A teenager might, for example, see gambling as a way to earn money, and they might chase losses, sure that the win is coming any minute. Unlike adult gamblers, teens are unlikely to have a source of income. As a result, they have no line of credit. To get funds for gambling, many teens will turn to theft. Generally, teens will steal from family and friends, creating difficulties in personal relationships.

When asked about their gambling habits, teens pointed to the televised broadcasts of Texas Hold’em Poker. Some teens said that online casinos frequently solicited them. Online casinos frequently do not have any accurate way of assuring that gamblers are over eighteen. Even those online casinos that claim to verify the age of their users can easily be fooled by a child who knows a parent’s personal information.

Parents may have difficulty tracing the expenses on their credit cards, because online casinos encourage the use of ewallets. The parent may not be able to trace what happened to the cash after it entered the ewallet. Since the parent may not be aware of their child’s gambling, they may think that they are victims of credit card fraud and simply cancel charges.

Seemingly innocuous bingo games also draw teens into gambling. While many people consider bingo “light gambling” or don’t consider it a real gambling game, bingo makes similar promises to teens. Like other types of gambling, bingo promises big wins for a small “investment.” While adults often understand the odds of winning, and the realities, teens often get caught up in their fantasies of wealth.

Whereas other forms of gambling are at least theoretically illegal, many teens play poker at home games with no supervision. Parents are relieved to see their children playing a friendly card game and often don’t realize the risks involved in playing even low-stakes poker. Players who lose will often continue playing long after they have lost more than they can afford. As a result, poker games may lead teens into the same dangers as other gambling games.

According to the survey, the problem is getting steadily worse, and parents need to be very careful to educate their children about the risks of gambling and how to gamble responsibly. In addition, parents, shopkeepers, and educators need to make a greater effort to keep teens away from gambling temptations such as lottery tickets and online gambling.

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