Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 30, 2007
Today's youth gamble on the future
Easy access, need for money, push teens to VLTs, poker, lotteries
A Shepherd Speaks
By BISHOP FRED HENRY
Video lottery terminals (VLTs) with all their colours, lights, sounds and high speed repetition of transactions are such an addictive combination that they have become known as the crack-cocaine of gambling.
While the majority of teens surveyed cited entertainment as their main reason for gambling, 20.7 per cent said they did it because they needed the money, and 15.3 per cent said it was to win back cash they had already lost.
Thirteen per cent of teens who play poker admitted they spend more money than they can afford on gambling.
Of those respondents who admitted to gambling, 3.9 per cent said they're already experiencing gambling problems. That number jumps to 6.9 per cent in the case of gamblers aged 18 to 24.
Technology-assisted gambling has ushered in a whole new world. Video lottery terminals (VLTs) with all their colours, lights, sounds and high speed repetition of transactions are such an addictive combination that they have become known as the crack-cocaine of gambling.
Entrepreneurs with an eye for revenue-generating opportunities are bound to seize upon the gambling potential of the Internet, cellphone, interactive TV and videogame gambling. At the moment, online gambling is illegal in Canada, but many researchers believe that change is inevitable as governments continue to lose money to offshore gambling sites. The social problems, however, remain localized.
For youth hooked into computer technology, it's not difficult to find those Internet sites which offer "visitors" the chance to try their hand at such casino-type games as slot machines and blackjack.
The 2003 report, Understanding the Audience: the Key to Preventing Youth Gambling Problems, strongly suggests that our youth are being groomed to gamble. Wiebe and Falkoski-Ham found that while 10 per cent of the 11 to 16 year olds reported betting on the Internet, 95 per cent said the site didn't require a credit card.
As the researchers pointed out, although players do not actually have to risk their own money, their wins and losses are displayed in terms of dollars. Essentially, youth are learning to gamble on "adult" games and the long-term impact of such sites on later gambling practices remains unknown. Given that young people are much more technology savvy than their parents, this becomes another compelling reason for putting gambling on the "to-talk-about-and model" agenda with the family.
The International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and His Risk Behaviours website offers the following signs of problem gambling for parents who worry that their children may have a gambling problem:
Given the familial and social problems associated with gambling, recent research has emphasized the need to move from a disease model that mainly focuses on gambling as an individual pathology requiring treatment to a public health model that first considers the impact of gambling on community public health and then search for strategies to minimize its impact.
Changing attitudes and parental modeling, rather than simply dispensing information, seems to be the critical factor in reducing gambling activity.
R.E. Shay once said: "Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will, but remember it didn't work for the rabbit."
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.