Teens: The Gamblers of The Future

Teens: The Gamblers of The Future

Hailey Farrell, Staff Writer

Between 60% and 80% of high school students report having gambled for money over the course of 2022. Today, many teens list gambling as a fun social activity to make a few extra bucks while spending time with friends and family. This may seem harmless to most, but the issue of teenage gambling prevails and can potentially take its toll on the adults of our future economy.

While kids are being taught that gambling is a bad habit and should be avoided at all costs, they may have actually been exposed to gambling without even knowing at an early age. A simple deck of playing cards during down time in elementary school and kids can develop a sense of excitement for the risk of gambling. Kids are encouraged to socialize and veer away from electronics when possible, such as on a rainy day.

Naturally, another form of entertainment and competition is created. One of these common forms of entertainment is card games, which are easy to learn, understand and only require a deck of cards. The price of playing these games start small, the loser may only have to do a dare from a friend or the winner may receive the classic yet craved “bragging rights”.  Although the price the loser pays rises with age. Gradually changing from dares and bragging rights to small dollar bills, money loss can be seen even at the dinner table during family gatherings.

But as kids grow and they become fond of the thrill of winning and maybe even have developed a lucky streak, they also get jobs and have their own pocket change. Many parents wouldn’t approve of their kids placing decent amounts of money into playing a game with friends, but with their own money, these teens are free to do whatever they like with their money. This now leads down a darker stairway of early gambling.

Stereotypes and peer pressure also greatly influenced the 30% increased risk of teenagers developing a gambling addiction since the year 2018. Being good at mature games at parties can boost a teens social status immensely, rarely are teens impressed by a good game of friendly chess. Yet, mature games are meant for mature audiences. Immaturity of teenagers can be to blame for the amount of high school students with a gambling problem, that research has found is double that of adults. YOLO (you only live once) culture and being taught “No risk, No reward” may have played a part in these definite gambling addictions suffered by at least 4-7% of high school students today. But gambling addictions don’t only sprout from a card game such as “black jack”, they can come from downloaded apps on devices for sports betting.

Sports betting is legal since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way in 2018. Fantasy football is high up on the boards for sports betting, where groups of people create a league and pitch in money for the last man standing. Any sport that provides high quality entertainment makes fans want a piece of the action. They can receive this access right through their own phone and at-home devices. While it is a fun activity in season, it isn’t exactly safe. This can lead to future betting scenarios where young adults lose big money. U.S. consumers experience over $100 billion dollars per year in gambling losses. Teenagers are at a high riskto this sum of money, especially when having access to gambling apps such as Draft Kings and FanDuel.

While these may be the future circumstances of being exposed to gambling as a teenager, gambling can have immediate and lasting effects on young people. These circumstances include declining grades, habitual money problems, less time spent with friends and family, associations with unsavory characters, and temptation to engage in illegal behavior. This can be dealt with as long as the issue is accessed and handled responsibly. High school kids have to play their part.