Adolescents Are at Increased Risk of Gambling Disorder
The Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia, the group that operates the 1800GAMBLER helpline, has announced grant awards to several prevention groups. Rainelle Medical Center received one of these grants. They will use the grant money to teach middle school, high school, and college youth about the risks of problem gambling.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, youth are more than twice as likely as adults to develop a gambling problem. Studies show that by high school, most kids have gambled for money. In a recent survey done by West Virginia youth gambling prevention groups, about half the youth indicated they had gambled, with nearly one in five saying they have bet on sports. Youth who gamble are at risk for many other problems, including addiction and depression. Young people often make bets among themselves or within apps or video games. Many have access to their parent’s credit card or mobile account and gamble online without their parents having a full understanding of the activities taking place.
Jennifer Davis-Walton, director of the Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia, says gambling addiction affects many people in West Virginia, and youth are not immune. She explained that convergence in gaming and gambling has increased the concern about youth gambling. She said, “Young people spend a lot of time playing games online, and many of these games have gambling elements, such as loot boxes. At the same time, they see constant advertisements for mobile gambling, and many of those apps look like the games they play.”
1800GAMBLER offers a 24-hour helpline and online chat. Callers are offered several treatment options, including free private therapy, telehealth, support groups, and self-help material.