More children becoming addicted to gambling

April 09, 2018 08:09 AM

There is a silent addiction plaguing our community, more children are becoming addicted to gambling. 

Thirty-nine percent of kids ages 12 to 17 say they have gambled. Thirty percent say they have gambled before the age of ten.

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Online gambling has become a big attraction for kids.

Doctors have seen a connection between gambling and depression. It's called the silent addiction because unlike drugs or alcohol, there's usually no visible evidence that someone is addicted to gambling.

Technically, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to gamble but kids are lying about their age on many websites. The earlier kids start gambling, the more likely they are to face a gambling addiction as an adult. 

A local expert says most kids don't even know what they're getting into, says Jennifer Faringer, director of DePaul's National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-Rochester Area.

"When kids start to gamble, often they don't even realize they're gambling because they call it gaming," Faringer said. "These are almost practice sites for kids to teach them essentially how to gamble."

Faringer says a lot of online games are rigged and kids as amateur gamblers usually can't tell.

"They're doing it initially for no money and then they experience wins," Faringer said. "Then all of a sudden there's an opportunity that pops up and says now enter your credit card number and you can turn those wins into financial wins... then the game flips."

There are signs parents need to look out for: shifts in behaviors, missing money, a change in friendships, or a change in academic achievement.

If you notice any of those, you should have a conversation with your child. 

Faringer and other advocates are pushing for no-gambling policies in all area schools. Believe it or not, most gambling begins there.


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