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Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Sports betting: Teens hit the “slots”

Over the past few years, the U.S. has seen a significant increase in the number of teenagers gambling and participating in sports betting.
According+to+a+study+done+by+Rutgers+University%2C+gambling+in+young+adults+ages+18+to+24+has+increased+by+400%25+since+2017.
Tyler Quattrin
According to a study done by Rutgers University, gambling in young adults ages 18 to 24 has increased by 400% since 2017.

Over the past few years, the U.S. has seen a significant increase in the number of teenagers gambling and participating in sports betting. According to a study done by Rutgers University, gambling in young adults ages 18 to 24 has increased by 400% since 2017.

Gambling in children can start as young as 10 years old as they are introduced to different games and websites, such as online poker, black jack and slots. Although gambling in the United States is illegal for people under 18 years old, teenagers still find ways to gamble, both online and in-person. 

Due to the growing popularity of technology, teens have a much easier time accessing online gambling websites than before. For many online platforms such as BetOnline, SportsBetting and MyStake, the age of each user cannot be verified, making it easy for teenagers to fake their age and place bets. For websites that require an ID or social security number, some teens may even go behind their parents’ backs and use their driver’s license, according to MV students. 

Gambling websites, as well as free downloadable apps such as Play To Win: Real Money Games and PrizePicks, are highly addictive, as shown through the millions of player downloads on the playstore app. These games often use partial reinforcement, meaning that players never know exactly when they might hit it big. “You’re like, ‘Well, I spent $400, but this next buck might be the one that makes me […] thousands of dollars,” said Carolynne Ladd, psychology teacher. The continued anticipation of the next play keeps players hooked. 

Social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram, also promote gambling for teenagers. Many videos show young gamblers going crazy over big-time wins, as well as people sharing advice on how to start gambling or increase one’s chances of winning. This content can make gambling seem extremely attractive and push the idea of making a lot of money quickly to impressionable teens. For example, junior Rylan Pike started sports gambling with his friends two years ago around the Superbowl after seeing gambling content online. “We wanted to make some money, and [sportsbetting is] interesting because I always see ads about it.” 

Early exposure to gambling content and games that emulate gambling can increase teens’ risk of trying real gambling and forming unhealthy habits later in life. Some students at MV already get together to play blackjack or poker on the weekends, and many are excitedly awaiting the day they can go to a real casino. “I know that one of the things that teenage boys and girls do when they turn 18 is some of them want to go right away to the casino,” said Fleming. “For some, they would say it’s a rite of passage.”  

All of this exposure to gambling can lead to compulsive gambling, which the Mayo Clinic defines as the uncontrollable urge to continue gambling even when it takes a toll on a person’s life. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), teenagers — especially teenage boys — tend to be more susceptible to developing gambling addictions because the prefrontal cortex, which regulates thoughts, actions and emotions, develops fully later. “Younger people are more prone to addiction because their brain is not as developed as people in their mid-20s. That’s why it’s even more dangerous for younger people than for older people,” said Ross Fleming, health teacher. 

As gambling becomes a larger issue among teenagers and young adults in the United States, treatment centers and helplines have received a large spike in the number of people seeking help for gambling addictions. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common treatment for compulsive gambling. It’s an approach that uses problem-solving skills in order to cope with difficult situations while also helping individuals figure out their problems through personalized lessons. 

Implementing regulations and educating teens can also prevent chronic gambling from becoming worse. For example, schools can teach students about addiction and spending habits. “In personal finance, we discuss the behavioral economics, specifically the psychology behind why we buy and/or overspend. In marketing, we discuss the psychology of why we buy (motives) and various advertising appeals,” said Rebecca Allard, sports marketing and personal finance teacher. By building a deeper understanding of why teens overspend or grow addicted to gambling, teens can increase their awareness of their susceptibility to developing bad habits before they form. 

The lack of oversight and growing popularity of online platforms and gambling content has led to an increase in teenage gambling. And if sports betting becomes legal, teenage gambling might only continue to rise, resulting in what was originally a fun pastime with friends having lasting consequences. 

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About the Contributors
Mara Peacock, Staff Reporter
Mara is a junior staff reporter, and this year is her first year on The Viewer. Awards: Best of SNO - Sports betting: Teens hit the “slots” Best of SNO - The teacher shortage crisis
Via Yang, Staff Reporter
Via is a junior staff reporter, and this year is her first year on The Viewer. Awards: Best of SNO - Sports betting: Teens hit the “slots” Best of SNO - ALL1N the fight against cancer Best of SNO - Marit Swenson Shining Light Foundation raises awareness for childhood cancers
Tyler Quattrin, Print Editor-in-Chief and Features Editor
Hello! I am thrilled to be a print Editor-in-Chief for my third year on The Viewer. Outside of The Viewer, I am a captain of the Mounds View Boys Swim and Dive team. Feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected]. Awards:  Best of SNO - Mounds View Theater casting sparks controversy Best of SNO - Pro-life activists rally against Minnesota abortion legislation Best of SNO - From Mounds View to the MN Supreme Court: Chief Justice Hudson's distinguished career Journalism Day at The Guthrie runner up - ‘Dial M for Murder’ Revitalizes Hitchcock’s Classic at the Guthrie
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