Is sports betting the gateway to problem gambling in teenagers and young adults?

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Since sports betting became legal in Ohio on Jan. 1, gambling in the state has been on the rise. But while casinos, mobile app companies and state government count the money, there is some legitimate concern that sports betting will normalize and make gambling accessible in new and dangerous ways.

This is especially true for children and teenagers too young to play legally as well as young adults of playing age. which experts say are particularly vulnerable to developing addictive behaviors because the decision-making parts of their brains have not fully developed.

Early statistics show that the majority of sports bets are placed through one of the many mobile betting apps such as FanDuel or DraftKings, making sports betting one of the easiest and most accessible forms of gambling.

Ohioans placed $1.11 billion in bets in January, and of that, $1.09 billion came from mobile sports betting apps. Even non-sports games were able to benefit from the launch of sports betting, with the 11 casinos and racins of the state taking record revenues.

The legal age for betting in Ohio is 21. Sports betting applications match Social Security numbers for name and address information to verify age and identity. attempted the identity verification process for a service by providing the Social Security number of a person under the legal betting age with a false date of birth. Registration was denied.

However, because these bets are placed via the mobile app, like all other online transactions, it is impossible to know if the person making the transaction is who they claim to be.

An The ABC news published in December featured an 18-year-old who racked up thousands of dollars in debt using other people’s accounts, and illegal offshore websites.

“If you have a phone and you have an internet connection, you can play whenever you want,” he told ABC’s Juju Changadding, that there are probably more teenagers with gambling problems than adults are aware of.

According to statistics from him International Center for Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviors60% to 80% of high school students say they have gambled for money in the last year and 4% to 6% are addicted to gambling.

Compare that to the rate of gambling problems in adults, estimated to be only 1%.

The explanation for this dramatic difference lies in the brain, say addiction researchers.

The parts of the brain that process emotions and impulses develop before the pre-frontal cortex – the part that processes complex information. This leads young people to make irrational decisions driven by emotional or social situations, rather than carefully considered choices based on logic.

As the logical centers of the brain mature, young people become much better at weighing risky behaviors against their potential rewards and consequences.

Targeting the immature brain

The legal age of gambling is well below the age that scientists believe this final maturation of the brain occurs. U Young adults’ brains are still thought to be mature until their mid to late 20smaking young adult players particularly vulnerable.

So how does the developing brain that doesn’t understand risk approach the game?

“I think the answer is: you don’t understand risk like an older brain, and that’s a concern.” he said Josh Grubbsa Bowling Green State University professor who studies gambling addiction.

“So, when we think about those younger men who make more bets, they are a particularly at-risk group because they don’t think about loss or risk nearly as much.”

Grubbs says he’s less concerned about teenagers stealing their parents’ credit cards and IDs for online gambling because, while it may happen, it’s probably a much smaller proportion of the problem.

Instead, he is more concerned about young adults who are not much older than 21 years old, or “college students who are around older, but still young people who have access to the game,” Grubbs said, citing an example of a university fraternity where sports betting was. popular

“Maybe you don’t need an online sportsbook to participate in this. Maybe you’re really struggling to bet against your brothers,” Grubbs said. “I think that’s another way that could be problematic that we should be thinking about.”

Colleges and universities don’t necessarily devote many resources to raising awareness of problem gambling, but many seem eager to get their cut of the spoils of sports betting.

Ohio University started a certificate programprepare students to work in the sports game industry, and the The New York Times reported that colleges and universities in other states were making multimillion-dollar deals with sportsbooks to direct gambling advertising to their students, most of whom are under 21.

Ohio has made an effort to clean up marketing to those who are not of legal age to play. For example, the Ohio Casino Control Commission reached settlements last month with two different companies.

Barstool Sportsbook will pay $250,000 via a live event held outside the University of Toledo football stadium. Regulators say the company broke two rules; advertising on or near a university campus and targeting customers who are under 21 years of age.

DraftKings Sportsbook will pay $500,000 over two separate violations. In December, regulators said the company sent ads to people under 21. In January, DraftKings was accused of breaking two rules: not having a message about the problem game, and advertising “free” bets or “risk-free”.

Start the education of the game first

Research shows that the earlier the participation or exposure to gambling in childhood, the more likely a person will develop a gambling problem later in life, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. The dramatic rise in popularity of sports betting is exposing an entire generation of children to gambling just to watch sports, long before they are old enough to place legal bets.

This has a growing number of experts concerned that the problem of gambling in young people is not sufficiently treated. Most gambling treatment and prevention programs are aimed at adults.

“Kids who have problems fall through the cracks,” Keith Whyte said executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

In response, some states are attempting to counter pro-gambling messages with school-based gambling education programs. Wisconsin, Virginia and North Carolina recently passed laws that require game education in schools or have developed and implemented programs. In other stateslike Maryland and West Virginia, attempts to pass legislation on gambling education have failed.

These differences highlight the problem that how much, if any, children’s education concerns the risks of gambling in school will be entirely dependent on where they live, say supporters of gambling education . Each state has to deal with the problem individually, which means that, unlike drugs and alcohol, children across the country do not receive a single clear message about the dangers of gambling addiction.

State taxes on gambling revenues and the portion of money that goes to treatment and prevention vary greatly. In Ohio, 2% of state gambling tax revenue is earmarked for the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction. Is it it is not yet clear whether any of that money will be used for specifically designed programs to educate children, teenagers or university students, and game education programs in school are available, but not sent.

No federal tax dollars currently go to help prevent or treat gambling addiction according to the council.

Like, there is no federal funding for gambling addiction researchGrubbs said.

“I don’t think we need the same kind of federal funding that the opioid crisis or the alcohol crisis might need, but we probably need more than zero dollars,” Grubb said.

“We’re at this point where the game is quite accessible, it’s available now in most of the United States. It’s time for the National Institutes of Health, the National Institutes of Mental Health to consider the game as something that they need to study more. Because I don’t think they have ever funded research directly on this topic.”

Understand the odds

One thing is clear, the The exposure of young people to gambling has changed dramatically in a short time. In the less than five years since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling opened the expansion for sports gambling beyond Nevada, sports betting has become legal in most states and teenagers and young adults who could never set foot in a casino are immediately exposed to a normalization, actively. he promoted the games around the sport.

In addition, sports betting today offers easy mobile access and more varied betting opportunities than ever before. Research shows that people who make many types of bets and place bets during games are more likely to have a problem.

“There’s certainly an almost staggering level of sports betting now compared to what it used to be,” Grubbs said.

There are many reasons why people play, says Grubbs.

For some it’s just fun, while others use it as a means to escape like alcohol or drugs. But when it comes to sports, he says many players think they can make money. The type of bets, and the nature of the games lead many gamblers to think they have special knowledge and can beat the house – and Grubbs says a lot of gambling problems arise from that kind of magical thinking.

A small percentage of players make money betting, Grubbs says, but the reality is that most people who try to make money gambling end up losing a lot more.

Only time will tell what impact sports betting will have on a generation of children growing up exposed to legalized gambling.

Meanwhile, in the absence of state or national game education, Grubbs offers a simple message that parents can offer as a counter to the positive message of the game that could lead the immature and vulnerable brains of their children to make wrong decisions.

“The whole gaming model is based on losing people,” Grubbs said. and The Plain Dealer may earn revenue from sports betting operators for referrals from the public to betting services. Sports betting operators have no influence on news coverage. See the operator’s website for terms and conditions. If you or a loved one has questions and needs to talk to a professional about gambling, call the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 or the National Council on Program Gambling Helpline (NCPG) at 1-800 -522- 4700 or visit for more information. 21+ and present in Ohio. Game problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.

Gretchen Cuda Kroen covers health care and The Plain Dealer. Read on previous work at this link.

As well:

Gambling helpline calls double in first month of legal sports betting in Ohio –

Ohioans bet big at area sportsbooks on first day of legal sports betting (photos, video) –

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