Reducing underage gambling
Is Education key to reducing underage gambling? The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) think so, and so do the Government think tank on Gambling. The good news, is that they are right, education does hold the key to stopping underage gambling, but who is educating who?
The theory is sound. Educate the youth on the negatives of gambling that include addiction and depression. Impress upon them that problems gambling are not just the creation of gambling sites or the adverts that lead gamblers to them.
The practice is flawed. It’s not a one-sided show. Gambling problems need to be addressed by more than just the Gambling websites and Bookies. Parents need to take responsibility for their actions too. Failing to identify that gambling comes in many forms, including Lottery and scratch cards sets a dangerous precedence that our children follow.
Education for reducing underage gambling is a collective responsibility that starts at home. Gambling operators, charities, teachers, and government agencies need to impress on parents the importance of social responsibility.
Manipulate or influence?
We love to point the finger at the advertiser on TV and shout “moral corruption”. Watch any football game on TV and it’s hard to ignore the “cash out now” message. Advertising has a powerful influence on our day to day but is not the biggest influence on the young.
A study to determine if exposure to gambling at an early age influences decisions made in later life, shows that childhood interaction with gambling is related to everyday life events. These include family holidays, TV nights in, first jobs and financial independence.
Influencers play a key role in the modern world of online everything, but it is easy to forget that the original “influencers”, are our parents. What they did we done, what they drank we wanted to drink, when they placed a £5 bet on a potential Derby winner, we wanted to be in on that discussion about horse, jockey and trainer.
We spent all our adolescent lives listening to and copying what our parents did. We chose religion based on their religion, we voted the way they voted, and we looked at gambling the same way they did. If dad won £50, we all went out for Fish and Chips. If he lost, he blamed the horse or the jockey. All part of the fun and games, yet no one ever questioned gambling as being wrong. We only focused on the “errors made” that led to the loss. “Better luck next time”.
Educate the masses.
It brings us back to the original question, “is Education key to reducing underage gambling”? YES! But we cannot push this onto the teachers, or the gambling sites, or the government. We need to look at our behaviours at home and teach the risks of gambling on all levels. Understand that there are many different forms of gambling, which include playing the lottery, Bingo and mobile-based slot games.
Technology makes gambling easy. Mobile phones, laptops and iPads are the modern medium of choice, which puts tech-savvy kids and young adults in the biggest risk groups for developing gambling problems. Parents need to be aware of the signs and what to do if they think that their child has a problem.
Tips for Parents
- Always close down the gaming software when you are away from your PC
- Make sure you add a password to your casino access
- Never let minors gamble
- Keep your password details and credit cards confidential at all times
- Memorise your passwords instead of saving them on your PC
- Limit and moderate children’s internet access – consider blocking software
The Government doesn’t have the answer and punishing the gambling sites for not having big enough “warning signs” isn’t as helpful as they think. There is a misconception that gambling isn’t gambling until there is money involved. WRONG. Gambling starts with silly bets that we all make “bet you can’t eat a whole pizza”, “bet you can’t do a wheely”, “bet you can’t guess the next card”.
There is a pattern to betting habits that most gambling professionals recognise, this kind of early warning recognition is what we should be looking for.
If you need help in Reducing Underage Gambling, there are several FREE websites and advice centres that can help you put together a sensible plan to help you stop or control gambling. Contact us for more details.