More Teens At Risk Of Gambling Addiction

As more states legalize online and retail sports betting, teen gambling addiction is becoming a growing concern across the nation.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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teen gambling

Gambling addiction has been a growing issue for decades. Now that more states are legalizing online and retail sports betting, the issues are only getting worse. But it’s not just a problem for legal-aged adults, as teen gambling is on the rise as well. Now more than ever, children are at high risk of developing an addiction to betting, as experts sound the alarm.

According to reports from EdWeek, high school students are developing concerning trends that some fear will lead to gambling addictions down the road. Depending on the state, the legal age to gamble ranges anywhere from 18-21. While only about 4 to 6 percent of teen gamblers are considered addicted to the betting trend, up to 80% of high school students now partake in the wagering past-time, and many are at risk of developing an addiction if actions aren’t taken.

Like drugs and alcohol, gambling can lead to addiction because it stimulates the reward system within the brain similar to how drugs and alcohol do. Globally, it is reported to be the most prevalent impulse control disorder. When teen gambling starts and persists, it can lead to lifelong issues, many of which center around finances. Furthermore, it can lead to medical, psychiatric, substance, and family/social issues down the road.

Sports betting has grown into one of the most popular forms of teen gambling. Much to this, the risk of developing an addition to it has grown more than 30 percent since 2018, especially for young males aged 18 to 24. What’s more, some research even says that the risk of high school students with a gambling problem is double that of adults. 

Much of these findings are due to the notion that sports betting and gambling are now a way of life. About two-thirds of adults approve of legalizing professional sports betting, which skyrocket from previous approval ratings in 2017. Even so, the majority of those respondents signified that they were concerned that an increase in teen gambling availability would lead to more addiction problems.

Furthering the issues with teen gambling, initiatives to deter and aid those with gambling addictions are only catered toward adults. What’s more, state gambling addiction services are heavily underfunded.  But still, there is a growing understanding with state policymakers that betting is becoming a growing issue for many high school students, as lawmakers look to amend current measures. 

teen gambling

US lawmakers are pushing to pass legislation to recognize and help keep teen gambling from going down a path of addiction. Sam Rasoul, a Democrat from Virginia sponsored the first ever state law in the nation that would require public schools to educate children about the risks associated with betting and gambling. Other states are likely to follow.

Teen gambling practices are growing in America. It’s no longer left to casinos, and technology is making it easier for teens to access the service with a swipe of their fingertips. Online and retail sports betting is now legal in at least 30 states. If swift action isn’t taken, more and more high school students will likely grow a troublesome addition, and the issue will work its way down to younger students.