Sports Betting Legal in MA: What Does This Mean For Youth Gambling?

As of March 10, 10 a.m. EST, sports betting through apps such as DraftKings and FanDuel are now legal in Massachusetts for those over 21 years of age. This legalization is very well-timed, as it takes place in the midst of an NHL and NBA season, and two weeks before the awaited NCAA March Madness season.

Although this seems like a positive for the betting scene in Massachusetts, because less people will break the law, what does this mean for the rise in gambling and possible addiction among the younger generation?

In an earlier article about youth gambling on The Lobby Observer, the student journalist discussed how youth gambling is a problem that is going to continue to expand exponentially in the coming years. Adolescents are twice as likely to have a gambling problem, and are four times more at risk to develop a gambling problem than adults.

It was reported that between 60% and 80% of high school students admitted to gambling for money in the past year, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. They say that easy access to online gambling has heightened risks for young adults. Four to six percent of high schoolers are also considered addicted to gambling.

This takes precedent at Westborough High School, and in our own lives as well. The higher levels of irresponsibility and competition among 14-18 year olds across the United States lead to a higher likelihood of irrationality and risk among bets surrounding sports. In my experience, I have witnessed handshake bets during a sports contest in which at least one party did not even possess sufficient funds to complete the bet if they lost.

This begs the question of what will these same students do once they reach the legal age to gamble. Now with betting through apps becoming legal, and therefore more accessible, will the number of underage gamblers begin to sky-rocket even more? With all of these factors, and nothing really stopping them, this can lead to a dangerous habit.