September is responsible gaming month. During this month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has expressed how important it is to teach students about responsible gambling. Even suggesting it be added to the state’s public education curriculum as the fourth “R”, the first three being reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Why Pennsylvania students are at risk
The Pennsylvania gambling industry does not end when patrons exit those shiny casino doors. In 2019, Pennsylvania became one of five states that allow its residents to bet on main attraction games like slots, poker, roulette, and sports online. Considering this younger generation’s connection with the internet, they are at a higher risk of forming a gaming addiction in the future.
Statistics calculated by the National Council on Problem Gambling found that 60% to 80% of High School Students had gambled for money in the past year. While most of these examples are probably casual bets between friends, it sets these students up for risky behavior in the future.
The brain does not fully develop until age 25, making high school and college-aged students more vulnerable to irresponsible behavior and even addiction. With its research on youth behaviors, the NCPG also found that 4%-6% of high schoolers most likely have already developed a gambling addiction.
Now is the time to educate students
With the start of fall sports (the most popular season for sports wagering), there is no better time to start educating students on the importance of safe gambling practices.
Henry Williams, executive director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, announced how his team is working during this time: “During September, the MGCB wants to raise awareness of responsible gaming, particularly among young people, and joins the American Gaming Association and its members as they introduce Responsible Gaming Education Month.”
The MGCB plans to promote safe gaming on its social media profiles all month long in hopes of reaching students. Williams also believes that schools and parents should have a hand in raising awareness about reckless gambling. Some signs parents can look out for in their children who may be at risk are those who are skipping classes, carrying around dice, chips, or playing cards, and using money intended for school-related activities. “While they can’t gamble legally on the internet or at a casino, young people may turn to illegal gambling options not authorized under Pennsylvania law,” Williams adds.
The MGCB believes that introducing responsible gaming curriculum into Pennsylvania schools will dramatically help the situation and believes educators and parents should help teach kids coming of legal gambling age. Adding responsible gaming to Pennsylvania’s public education would certainly be a first.
The current legal age for gambling and betting activities in Pennsylvania is 21. There are a few safeguards for those who might have irresponsible gaming concerns. All gaming operators are required to offer self-set limits on deposits, wagering, and time for players to help monitor their spending. Additionally, the MGCB also offers the option for players to self-exclude themselves from the entrance to land-based casinos and access to online casinos.
Resources can be found on both the American Gaming Association and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for those who may be struggling with a gambling addiction. Additionally, those who need help can call the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services’ 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 800-270-7117.
Mac Daniel is a South Carolina-based freelance writer for PlayOnlineCasino and PlayOnlineSportsBetting. He has experience writing about a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, tourism, non-profit organizations, and most recently casino and sportsbetting news. To check out more of his work, visit: playonlinepennsylvania.com