What Parents Should Know About Online Sports Betting
The growing online sports betting industry is making gambling more and more accessible to adults and children alike. While it might be legal for adults, access to sports gambling poses many potential risks for kids. Despite an individual’s age, it’s a risky activity for anyone who even simply dabbles in it. Even more so for young minds not fully developed.
If you’re a parent, here are a few things you need to know about the risks of online sports betting.
The Rise of Online Betting: A Snapshot
The online gambling market is expected to reach over $25 billion in 2023, with most of the revenue generated in the United States. Over the past few years, many states have legalized sports betting, allowing for a boom in new online betting platforms. These platforms make gambling easily accessible to anyone with Internet access. Online sports betting sites have advertisements on social media, websites, and television, which contribute to their growing popularity.
Children and Teenagers Can Bypass Age Restrictions
Online betting platforms typically have age restrictions, with most requiring users to be at least 18 years old. However, since these platforms are online, age verification is often based on self-reporting or easily forged documents. This makes it very simple for tech-savvy teens to bypass these restrictions and gain access to online gambling sites.
The Attraction of Online Betting
Betting platforms often employ tactics to attract and retain players. These can include welcome bonuses, free spins, and loyalty rewards. Combined with the thrill of winning, these promotions can be particularly enticing to younger individuals who may need more maturity and experience to understand the risks involved.
Moreover, the illusion of easy money can be a potent lure, leading some to chase losses or develop unhealthy gambling habits.
The Risk of Addiction
The youth are particularly vulnerable to impulsive behavior and addiction. The ease of access and immersive experience offered by online betting can increase the risk of problematic gambling among young people.
The National Council on Problem Gambling reports that over 60%-80% of high school students gambled in the past year. Furthermore, the rates of problem gambling are reported to be between 10%-14% — an alarming trend that needs to be addressed before it becomes a full-blown crisis.
Financial Implications: Personal and Social Perspectives
While the risk of addiction is concerning, there are also tangible financial consequences. The anonymity and convenience of online transactions can make it easy for teens to spend large amounts without fully grasping the implications. This could lead to significant financial strain or debts, which can impact their financial health and stability in the long term.
Problem gambling can increase dependence on social welfare benefits and higher health care costs. The annual social cost of gambling in the U.S. is about $7 billion, including gambling-related crimes, loss of business, unemployment, and bankruptcy.
Tips for Parents
Parents must be proactive, informed, and vigilant to ensure their children’s safety and well-being. Here are some tips that can help you connect and influence your child’s habits:
- Know what’s available: Over 34 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized some form of sports betting. Research laws in your state so you can talk to your kids about them.
- Educate: Familiarize yourself with popular betting sites and the signs of problematic gambling to better guide and monitor your children.
- Tech solutions: Employ parental controls and monitoring software to restrict access to gambling sites.
- Lead by example: Set a responsible example by showcasing healthy attitudes towards gambling and money. Offer them an allowance, help them save some of it by opening a bank account and reward your children when they reach certain milestones.
Helping the Youth Overcome Gambling or Betting Problems
A multifaceted approach to address this issue is essential, starting with professional support and counseling. The National Council on Problem Gambling offers specialized helplines and resources catering to the younger demographic. Moreover, the National Center for Responsible Gaming, another U.S.-based organization, has endorsed cognitive behavioral therapy as a promising treatment for youth gambling and addiction issues.
Schools equipped with structured programs that highlight the risks of gambling and demystify the notions of “easy wins” play an instrumental role. The U.S. National Library of Medicine has cited the tangible impact of youth-targeted prevention programs in curbing gambling tendencies.
With the expanding legalization of sports betting in many U.S. states, there’s a demand for stricter regulations to prevent underage participation. For instance, New Jersey has stringent age verification mechanisms on online betting platforms, setting a precedent for other states.
A Team Effort
Tackling youth gambling addiction in the U.S. is a complex challenge requiring a concerted effort from parents, educators, policymakers, and communities. While statistics show the pressing nature of the problem, they also highlight the potential for strategic interventions to create a positive change. A proactive and informed approach can help guide American youths toward safer and healthier choices in the digital age.