For most adults who gamble, gambling is a harmless recreational activity. Did you know that for some people gambling can become a destructive addiction with resultant problems similar to those experienced by people with alcohol and other drug abuse issues? Problem gamblers sometimes resort to criminal behavior in order to cover gambling losses.
No one wants their children or grandchildren to develop such serious problems, and yet studies show that less than half of all parents talk to their children about the potential problems involved with gambling. Gambling is similar to alcohol and other drug addiction in that the younger a child is when they begin gambling, the more likely they will be to develop a problem with gambling as an adult. This is why it is illegal in New York state to sell lottery products to youth younger than age 18.
The New York Council on Problem Gambling reports in New York state alone approximately 140,000 adolescents report already having had problems due to their gambling, and an additional 10 percent of our youth are at risk of developing a gambling problem. Youth gambling is closely tied to other high risk behaviors. Underage students who report gambling also are 50 percent more likely to drink alcohol, more than twice as likely to binge drink, more than three times as likely to use marijuana, and three times as likely to use other illegal drugs.
Youth today are bombarded with messages, which depict gambling as exciting and glamorous. They are exposed to messages about the benefits of gambling and the message that gambling is an easy way to make a great amount of money in a short time. Little is ever said about the potential negative consequences or the real odds of winning.
Parents play a crucial role in protecting their children from problems with gambling. Please educate your children about the real odds of winning at gambling and about the risks and ugly realities of addiction.
If you would like more information, call the HFM Prevention Council at 736-8188, consult the New York Council on Problem Gambling website www.knowtheodds.org, or call the New York Helpline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369).
HFM Prevention Council