Internet Gambling and Teens

One of the most popular Internet developments over the last decade is the rapidly growing market for gambling websites. Sites that have card games, sports betting, or just about anything else that you can think of to place bets on are wildly popular with the young adult population.

Unfortunately, what happens is that teens will lie about their age or pose as their parents to gain access to a gambling site. Before you know it, the parent’s credit card is maxed out, credit ratings are ruined and there’s no way out of the debt but to pay it off. In the process, the teen becomes addicted to gambling, and finds a way to continue their behavior whatever the cost.

How do you avoid this situation? Obviously, you can’t police your kids’ Internet usage 24 hours a day, but you can educate your child about the dangers of Internet gambling and gambling addiction in general. Research has found that gambling can be as addictive as drugs. Lab rats that are trained to push a button to receive a food pellet will only push it when they are hungry. When the food pellet is randomly dispensed, the rat will continue to push the button even after their hunger has been satisfied. In some cases, the rats will exhaust themselves pressing the button.

This research tells us that it is not so much the flashing lights or even the winning that is the addicting factor in gambling. Rather the chance that they will win becomes addictive, and no matter how often a person loses, an addict will play one more time because that is the time they will win. Casinos and other gambling institutions are keenly aware of this phenomenon and take measures to carefully use it to their advantage. They also take great pains to make sure that nobody under the legal age comes into the establishment, let along touches the machines.

Internet gambling sites rarely take such exhaustive measures. In fact, all it usually takes to gain access to the games themselves is a click on a button that says you’re of legal age. Many gambling sites operate overseas, so the laws of the United States don’t really apply. As long as a credit card is good, the site’s processing software doesn’t know who is entering the information. This allows a teen to steal their parent’s credit card (or anyone else’s in certain extreme cases), enter the information and start betting.

Credit limits can be easily reached- and very quickly. To give you some sort of idea of how fast a credit card can be filled up, we’ll take the example of a card with a credit limit of about $5,000. A risky teenager can lose about $200 on a football game or play blackjack at $5 per hand. In about a week, if they are left unmonitored, anyone can lose literally thousands of dollars. Since your credit card bill comes once a month, it can be as much as thirty days before you realize that you are maxed out or worse, and by that time, your teen can be addicted or you can find yourself too deep in debt to climb out.

There are ways to keep you teen off of Internet gambling sites. The easiest thing to do is to block gambling sites from your computer. Most Internet Service Providers offer some sort of blocking software as part of their package. You can also sit your teen down and educated them about the dangers of gambling addiction. If you suspect that your teen is involved in online gambling, do your best to find out for sure. Gambling can be a dangerous addiction, so don’t miss it.

Have a great day!