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Fiona Simmons December 1, 2023 4 min read
Experts Are Concerned about America’s Rising Youth Problem Gambling Rates
Luckily, the younger generation is also more likely to seek help
Gambling addiction in the United States is getting more and more serious as calls to get the situation under control grow louder. The Guardian spoke with experts who highlighted America’s concerns about the young people exposed to harm.
Gambling organizations across the US have noticed a concerning number of teen and young adult patients seeking help.
New Jersey, which has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to gambling, is currently dealing with an influx of harmed young patients. According to the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, the number of requests for support has more than doubled since 2018. This was also echoed by UCLA, which has been evaluating the trend.
Many believe that the convenience mobile gambling provides has made it very appealing to young people Brad Ruderman, of the Beit T’Shuvah treatment center in Los Angeles noted that this would be the first generation to grow with mobile gambling.
Keith Whyte, the National Council on Problem Gambling’s executive director, asked a room of 40 17-year-old boys in Virginia how many had sports betting apps on their phones. Thirty-six boys admitted to having one, further supporting T’Shuvah’s claim.
Experts believe that young people, whose brains are still developing, might be much more susceptible to gambling’s tricks of attracting customers.
Arnie Wexler, a counselor, fears that America might be “killing its youth.”
The Situation Is Bad But Not Hopeless
Rick Benson, the founder of the Algamus treatment facility in Goodyear, Arizona, believes that America might be headed into a “gambling addiction quagmire if not crisis.” He said that the nonstop betting opportunities provided by the local mobile operators are simply too convenient.
Another aspect is peer and commercial pressure, Shekhar Saxena, ex-director at the WHO, believes. He pointed out that younger people easily influence one another, exacerbating the problem.
For reference, in 2018 only 11.5% of the people who contacted New Jersey’s gambling support services admitted they were under 25. During the first 10 months of 2023, this number had increased to 19.6%.
Luckily, the younger generation is more likely to seek help, according to UCLA’s co-director of the gambling studies program, Timothy Fong. The stigma among them is not so serious suggesting that there might be hope for solving the issue.
The Guardian also spoke with Amanda Blackford, director of operations and problem gambling services at the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Commenting on the rising harm rates that followed the recent legalization of sports betting, Blackford said that problem gambling will always exist, so it is important to help as many people as possible.
Many Believe Tougher Regulations Are Needed
In the meantime, calls to better regulate the sports betting sector have increased. While many states now offer gambling, some believe that few of them are sufficiently engaged in the protection of customers.
Felicia Grondin, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling, is one of the many supporters of restrictions on gambling ads. Ads are already talked about a lot in other modern markets as many believe that exposure leads to more harm.
WHO’s Saxena, on the other hand, said that operators themselves should not exploit their consumers’ vulnerabilities. Saxena thinks that allowing the customers to choose how often and how much to wager is not enough.
The industry, however, argues that an overwhelming majority of consumers wager safely. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), legal operators offer a number of important safeguards to keep players safe.
Overregulation, on the other hand, risks channeling people toward the black market, which offers few, if any, of these safety measures. The AGA urged for further research before proceeding with overregulation.