Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow
WyBETT   Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow
 Teens and Gambling

One of the most disturbing facts about new expansions into gambling, such as lotteries and video gambling is the gigantic increase of teen-gambling that occurs. Generally, very few teens get involved in gambling at the race track, but when lottery ticket dispensers appear at the local convenience store, gas station, bowling alley, etc., the level of teen-gambling soars. Casinos and widely dispersed video gambling machines attract a large percentage of the teen-age population.

In a study on teen-gambling, Dr. Durant Jacobs studied 2,700 high school students in California, New Jersey, Virginia and Connecticut, states with legalized lottery and/or video gambling. He found that about 50% of the students gambled at least once a year, although gambling was illegal for teens in all of these states. He discovered that over 13% of the teens in these states were financing their gambling activities with criminal sources of income, such as drug dealing, prostitution, check "kiting", etc. His study discovered that nearly 5% of the teens in these states would be categorized as "compulsive gamblers" according to the American Psychiatric Association's criteria describing "compulsive gamblers." A study by Dr. Henry Lesieur found about 64% of New Jersey youths gambled at casinos, with 21% gambling at least once a week. He also found the rate of gambling addiction of youth in New Jersey to be about 6%.

There is very new research that indicates the level of teen-gambling and gambling addiction is even higher with video gambling than the lottery or other forms of gambling. Valerie Lorenz, Ph.D., one of the authors of Maryland's state report on gambling addiction, indicates that the addiction rate with teens and video gambling is between eight to ten percent. It's easy to see why. If you have ever seen teen-aged boys playing video games at an arcade or supermarket, you can see the hypnotic effect the fast video action and sound effects have on the teens. Now add the possibility of an occasional jackpot that attraction and you have a very enticing situation. It has been described by Robert Hunter, the clinical director of Charter Hospital in Las Vegas, as the "crack cocaine" of gambling. Dr. Hunter says that several factors, such as immediate feedback, high-resolution screens, and high-tech audio effects make the video games so much more addictive.