The Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia, the group that operates the 1800GAMBLER helpline, is excited to announce that it has awarded grants to several prevention groups to educate youth about problem gambling. The 1800GAMBLER group has become concerned about youth gambling, as gambling has become more accessible to children, especially via mobile apps. Also, may video games contain controversial features like “loot boxes” which have gambling-like elements.
Clay County Health Department and Clay FRN of Clay, WV received one of these grants. They plan to actively work with Clay County Middle/High School providing education in hopes to combat the gambling problems of youth of Clay County.
Studies show that by high school most kids have gambled for money. A poll of 1500 kids in West Virginia showed that many do gamble, including one in five who have bet money on cards/dice games, and one in three who have bet on sporting events. About a quarter of the kids said they thought gambling was a good way to make money. It is noteworthy that these polls were taken before the recent barrage of advertising for sports gambling apps; so those numbers are likely to increase.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, youth are more than twice as likely as adults to develop a gambling problem. Kids who gamble are at risk for a host of other problems, including substance abuse. Kids often make bets among each other, within apps on smartphones and while playing video games. Some kids have access to their parent’s credit card of mobile account and can easily gamble online without their parents having a full understanding of the activities taking place.
Jennifer Davis-Walton, Director of the Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia, says gambling addiction affects many people in West Virginia. She says that studies have shown that 1 in 50 people are dealing with a gambling problem. Over 15,000 people in the state have called 1800GAMBLER for help. “We are excited to partner with these groups as they educate young people and the community about the dangers of problem gambling. Unfortunately, many parents view gambling as a harmless activity and even allow their kids to participate with them as they gamble. We’ll use these grants to educate a whole new generation about gabling addiction, and how video games and apps have incorporated gambling into activities for kids.” The Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia is celebrating 20 years of providing help to individuals.