The Stakes Are High
Do you buy scratch off tickets? How about betting on your favorite sports team? Maybe you play bingo, or buy raffle tickets or lottery tickets?
Gambling can be fun and interactive and adults gamble for many reasons: to provide an escape from reality, to ease money issues, or because it feels good to win. While gambling is meant for entertainment, for some, what may seem like harmless fun can become into an addiction problem.
What it means to gamble
The North American Training Institute (NATI) defines gambling as a person who places something of value to be won or lost on an event, game, or activity. They are taking a chance, even if they know the odds and probability, on whether they will win or lose. For example, if a person placed a $2 bet on whether their child would tie their shoes in two minutes, they have just gambled. But if we left the money part out this would just be a fun activity with no gambling.
Youth gamble too
90% of teenagers have gambled at least once in their lifetime according to the NATI. Technology is going to make gambling potentially more accessible to youth. Most youth are exposed to gambling through social media, television, video games, friends, and family. They see Mom and Dad having fun, placing bets on their sports teams with their friends and they see that in order to access higher-level items for their favorite video game, they have to bet so many tokens each round before they can play again. They see Grandma and Grandpa going to bingo and listen to their exciting stories about their winnings.
Youth are 3 times more likely than adults to develop a gambling problem
Often the harms of problem gambling are overlooked as are the consequences. Gambling can become an addiction for both youth and adults. Between 4% and 8% of youth, between the ages of 12 – 17, are at risk for developing a gambling problem and are more likely to experiment with gambling at an earlier age than they are with drugs or alcohol.
Who we are and what we are doing
In an effort to address this issue, the Unified Prevention (UP!) Coalition for a Drug Free Doña Ana County has partnered with the Sunland Park Race Track and Casino and the New Mexico Council on Problem Gambling to prevent youth gambling and raise awareness on adult problem gambling and its related risks. With the grant support of Sunland Park Race Track and Casino, the UP! Coalition currently teaches the course, Kids Don’t Gamble…Wanna Bet!? at local recreation centers, schools and agencies within Doña Ana County. The curriculum was developed by the NATI for kids in 3rd to 8th grade. Over the course of the summer the UP! Coalition will reach 525 children.
The UP! Coalition is also working with other organizations and the community to bring education and awareness to adults regarding problem gambling within Doña Ana County. Teens that have a serious gambling problem were often introduced to gambling by a parent according to NATI. A study completed by George and Schroeder shared that children age 15 or younger who have gambled stated that only 9% of parents were very concerned about their gambling activities. This means that awareness on the risks of problem gambling is not widely known.
The UP! Coalition wants to make a difference and raise community awareness by creating programs for youth and adults to live a life free of addictions, drugs, and alcohol.
Responsible gambling can be fun
Some good tips to be a responsible gambler include:
- Know your limits on your resources
- Understand the risks of losing and accept that loss is a part of the game
- Do not borrow money to gamble
- Do not let gambling interfere with family, friends, or work
- Know the warning signs of problem gambling
Warning signs of addictive gambling
Another important part is to know how to identify if someone is suffering from a gambling addiction, including:
- Preoccupied with gambling
- Brags about winnings and forgets about losses
- Shows signs of restlessness and anger when not gambling
- Gambles to win back losses
- Borrows money to continue gambling habit
- Lies about gambling activities
- Unexplained absences from work or school
- Breaks the law to get money (such as stealing)
- Shows signs of depression
- Shows signs of lack of sleep
Gambling Addiction Concerns
Those who suffer from a gambling addiction suffer just the same as those from any other addiction such as alcohol and drugs. Consequences of severe gambling addiction can be loss of home, lack of food, or lack of money to buy needed items. Gambling bets that cannot be fulfilled can also have consequences of violence or jail time.
There is help!
Parents are encouraged to talk to youth about the risks of illegal gambling as well as learn more about responsible gambling. Raising awareness about underage gambling and their associated risks with other activities can help youth from developing serious gambling problems or other addictions. Gambling addictions can often go unnoticed, making them hard to discover for both youth and adults. Talk to your loved one’s about responsible gambling and know the warning signs of gambling addiction.
Gambling is meant to be fun and recreational but if it becomes a problem please call 1-800-572-1142.