The Rise of Youth Gambling

Jake Birkhead '23, Sports Editor, Feature Editor

Today, there are many discussions about the problems that teenagers face. Lots of awareness has been brought to vaping, mental health, and cyber bullying. However, there’s one major problem that I don’t believe has received enough attention and affects many others I know: youth gambling. 

With access to gambling easier than ever, it’s no surprise that many teens have flocked to different sites to bet money. Adolescents are twice as likely to have a gambling problem, and are four times more at risk to develop a gambling problem. This is because the brain doesn’t fully develop until teens reach their early twenties, leading youth to have a much greater level of irrational decisions.

I can certainly attest to this struggle. For instance, even though I thought the Rams would beat the Bengals during the last Super Bowl, minutes before the game started, I put $50 on the Bengals. That was a decision I still regret, and I couldn’t tell you why I did it. This level of irrationality can create a dangerous habit. 

When a person thinks of a gambling addiction, they often think of the fact that the person is just irresponsible. However, this isn’t always the case. Like alcoholism or depression, gambling is a disorder, and is clinically recognized. For teenagers, this disorder is developing at an alarming rate. If a fifteen year old tries to purchase a scratch ticket or play poker at a casino, they’ll be rejected. But, on the internet there’s no one to reject them from gambling. 

One outlet for this is the increased popularity of crypto gambling. Many sites like Stake have risen dramatically in popularity. In fact, popular artist Drake partnered up with them and has done several seven figure bets with the site. Stake offers up to $50,000 per week in bonuses, which further entices people to join. 

Many other online gambling sites offer these types of bonuses as well. If there’s one thing we know about peoplethey cannot resist something free, and who can blame them? When I heard from a friend that he placed a bet that had a $500 payout for free, I didn’t think gambling is evil. Why would he do that? Instead I immediately asked, “What site did you say you did this on again?” 

Gambling has never been so accessible and easy. There’s virtually unlimited access to casinos around the world, and there’s been a heavy increase in these types of free offers. All of this equates to a crisis that is becoming worse and worse. As stated earlier, gambling is a disorder. If a teenager becomes seriously addicted when they are young, it will affect them for the rest of their lives. 

With this comes the one more mentality: the idea that I have to just win one more time to make it all back. There is even a popular image circulating around the internet showing a minor quitting right before hitting valuables with the title “Keep gambling”. As funny as this is, it projects a very dangerous image. As much as I used to laugh at it, now all I can think about is a person losing everything they have because of this mentality. 

I hope we can all come together and raise awareness for this issue. I think that there should be youth campaigns against this issue. No one ever talks about this issue, but we absolutely have to in the future.