Article: Gambling is Addictive to Kids

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tammy rigsby
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Article: Gambling is Addictive to Kids

Post by tammy rigsby » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:12 pm

theadvertiser.com December 2, 2008

The Picard Center for Child Development at UL has conducted a study of youth-related gambling. It shows that Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes have the highest rates in Louisiana, and are also among the top six parishes for numbers of video-gaming sites in operation. The study found that up to 50 percent of Houma-Thibodeaux students in grades six, eight, 10 and 12 have been involved in some kind of gambling activity. The gambling in which these students engage is seldom the casino type. It involves gaming cards, sports bets among their friends and family, games of skill such as video games, dice games, board games, bingo and the lottery. Many parents look at such forms of gambling as harmless. Yet experts say engaging in them sets a youngster up for addiction to gambling. According to a study by Arts & Entertainment television, the fastest-growing ranks of gamblers today are teenagers, and they are becoming addicted at alarming rates. That, according to A&E, is creating a crisis in American schools where card and dice playing is not uncommon on campuses. Many who engage in the widespread betting "will become the hard-core, compulsive gamblers of tomorrow," according to A&E. George Meldrum of the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems told CBS News, "This is the first generation of kids growing up when gambling is legal and available virtually nationwide." Researchers say parents do not worry as much about exposing their children to this habit as they might to alcohol or smoking. Dr. Rachel Volberg, president of Gemini Research, which specializes in gambling studies, said, "It is a situation where many parents still assume that it's better for a kid to be gambling than to be out on the streets doing drugs or whatever." What parents might not know is that studies show that problem gamblers exhibit similar functional changes in their brain's decision-making center as drug addicts and alcoholics. Experts say underage gamblers are three times as likely as adults to become compulsive gamblers. Linda Chamberlain, a gambling addiction expert at the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at the University of South Florida, says the neurobiology of what happens when somebody is gambling is much the same as what happens when they are taking cocaine. Experts are pushing the government to hold hearings on the underage gambling issue. Also, they are calling for public-service announcements or warning messages in the media to educate the public on the dangers of gambling by young people. We support such moves. Teenagers and their parents need to learn the dangers and act accordingly.

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