“Who is the gambling addict now”?

July 10, 2012 jack Gambling Stories

By Carrie
July 13th, 2006

Over the years gambling has become a large piece of American society. We play bingo in our churches, poker on Friday night with the guys, and place bets on cars, horses and even dogs.

It is estimated that roughly 50,000,000 Americans gamble on a daily basis. So lets apply a little perspective to how much money we actually spend on gambling in a year. Well in a year Americans spend around 22 billion dollars on movies, music, and concerts.

That sounds like a lot of money right? Wrong. We spend roughly a trillion dollars a year on gambling! That is more than we spend for medical care and education on our children! Now I’m not here to bash gambling, I cant say I haven’t scratched a ticket or two in my day, but there is a new wave of what is known as problem gambling in America, and surprise surprise, of all people who do you think it is? Would you believe that it is our kids? Well, it is.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of a gambling addict, I think of some guy in his 30s or 40s who blew away his life savings, his retirement fund, and refinanced his house to support his gambling habit. It has never crossed my mind that the gambling addict next door could possibly be the eleven year old who my kid hangs out with at school. I never knew that there are actually states that allow people under the age of 18 to gamble.

But the primary place these kids are gambling is on-line. Imagine that! According to the University of Pennsylvania, there are roughly one million gamers under the age of 18. Just in New York State alone, there are approximately 135,000 teens that gamble on a regular basis.

Very few gambling websites have safeguards in place to stop kids from logging on and dealing out the deck or pulling the slot handle! Without any safeguards, you may as well have a casino built right into your living room! But the web isn’t the only place our kids are placing their bets.

They are doing it at school, sporting games, and even over video games. Lets take your local video game arcade for example. How many times have you been in one and seen little kids who mainly want to play the games that give out tickets?

They are drawn to these games because they stick their coins in and out comes instant gratification in the form of those glorified tickets. Why do we want the tickets? Well of course to get the little toys they have back behind the counter. I know this is one way the arcades increase their profits, but it is also a way we are unknowingly teaching our kids to gamble. The games are almost all games of chance.

You never know when you stick your money in if you are going to win and get tickets or not. Our nation places a large focus on preventing our kids from drinking, smoking, and doing drugs. Well here’ a bomb for you, more kids in America gamble each week than kids who drink, smoke, or do drugs. Not to say that the drinking, smoking and drugs are not a problem, because they are, but maybe they are just not as big of a problem as we think. Gambling seems to be an invisible problem. I was surprised to find that there are agencies and rehab programs geared only towards kids addicted to gambling.

There are many kids who have actually committed suicide over gambling related issues. Kids who are addicted to gambling are more apt to steal, cheat and lie. Studies have shown that kids who gamble are more likely to be school dropouts, have low self-esteem, and even become depressed and sometimes attempt suicide. Research has shown that kids who are exposed to gambling at early ages are more likely to become problem gamblers when they are adults.

What does this say about our society? I think the big question is what should we do about it? In summary, gambling has been a part of America as long as this great country has existed. One of the beautiful things about being Americans is that we are graced with our freedoms.

We are free to gamble away our saving if we wish! We are free to be the problem gambler! But how about we at least do the future of this great land a favor and do our best to keep our children from becoming that problem gambler?

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