This time of year, many people are looking for last-minute stocking stuffers for the children in their lives.
While considering those special gifts, the Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia (PGHNWV) reminds parents and other adults that lottery tickets, gambling gift cards and gambling games are inappropriate for children under age 18.
This year, a particular concern are sports betting gift cards. Sports betting, now legal on mobile devices in West Virginia, has become increasingly popular and is frequently mentioned as a primary type of gambling by 800-GAMBLER helpline callers.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, youth are two to four times more likely than adults to develop a gambling problem. Also, the earlier a person begins gambling, the greater likelihood of developing a problem with gambling.
A survey of over 700 West Virginia middle and high school students by PGHNWV found most have gambled, many don’t understand the risks and some are already showing signs of a gambling
- 128 did not think gambling could become an addiction
- 41 said they gambled “often”
- 21 admitted they hid their gambling from others
- 67 said they would like to stop gambling but did not know how
Jennifer Davis-Walton, program director for PGHNWV, said, “For some, gambling can be addictive and cause huge problems — similar to addiction to alcohol or tobacco. As a parent, you wouldn’t give your 10-year-old a six-pack of beer or a carton of cigarettes. We used to be primarily concerned with scratch-off tickets and poker games, but gambling has become much more pervasive. In addition to sports betting cards, there are gift cards for apps and video games, many of which contain gambling elements, such as loot boxes. We urge parents to think twice before buying something for their child that could cause serious problems.”
Anyone experiencing problem gambling issues can call the Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia at 800-GAMBLER or chat at 1800Gambler.net. To learn more about youth gambling, visit GetAheadOfTheGame.net.
The Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia has been the sole provider of gambling prevention and treatment services for the state since 2000. It has helped over 17,000 people in West Virginia who are concerned about their gambling behavior or that of a loved one. Helpline callers are offered a free appointment with one of the network’s 50-plus treatment providers, support groups and other resources.