What we are exposed to matters. Right now, sports wagering is so widely spoken about, advertised and engaged in that young people can’t help but notice. Some parents are betting on the sidelines of youth sports, and some are even helping their kids to place bets. What many people don’t realize is this: exposing young brains to gambling puts them at risk for developing a gambling problem. Research in brain development tells us that this is just like early exposure to alcohol and other substances. It hurts kids and can lead to a potentially fatal addictive disorder. Don’t think gambling disorder is deadly? Consider this: disordered gamblers have a suicide attempt rate higher than that of any other addictive disorder. So, let’s take this seriously. And remember that athletes are just one group at increased risk for disordered gambling. Adolescents are another. So, you can see why gambling and youth sports are a bad combination.
A recent campaign put out by Stop Predatory Gambling released these startling statistics:
Parents, coaches, teachers and other caring adults: if you choose to participate in sports wagering, don’t involve kids or teens. Enjoy sports in a way that focuses on the excitement and energy of the event, the players’ records, the punch stats, all that; not the odds, the over-under, or any of that.
In the rare event you see an ad for “responsible gambling” (see prior post for thoughts on this term), like for the NFL’s newly launched site responsibleplay.org, use it as a chance to highlight that some people are hurt by sports betting. The number and intensity of ads encouraging sports betting are really indicators of the amount of money to be lost, not won. After all, how much do you think it costs to run all those ads? The revenue generated from sports wagering is in the billions. Revenue = players’ losses. Enough is being lost on sports wagering already. Let’s not lose our kids, too!
Want a free workshop on teen gambling? Workshops are held by Zoom and available at no cost to Illinoisans. Just fill out this contact form. Not from Illinois but want to sit in on an Illinois-based event? No problem. Just fill out the form and we’ll let you know what’s available. We also can provide public awareness materials, like the flier shown below, to youth sports leagues and athletic departments. Let us know what you need and we’ll get it to you.
Also, please watch and share this short educational clip put together with some fantastic and brilliant volunteers from our Teen Problem Gambling Focus Group. Who better to teach about teen gambling than the teens themselves?!
Remember, don’t let sports betting get in the way of the game!