Poker Popularity Linked to Problem Gambling Among Youth

The executive director for the National Council on Problem Gambling says the combination of several factors has contributed to a poker craze among teens and young adults.

Keith Whyte of the NCPG says television is glamorizing poker with its high stakes games and big celebrity players, and at the same time, the game is also very accessible through the Internet. Both of these factors, he says, combined with a youthful desire to take risks, have created a situation that is more than a minor problem.

“We're seeing a large increase in the number of kids that report gambling on poker and on casino card games,” Whyte says. “We're also seeing a decrease in the age of callers to our help lines, and we're seeing a decrease in the amount of time that our callers have gambled before they get into trouble.”

The head of the NCPG says parents need to address the issue of gambling with their children just as they would address sex, drugs, or alcohol, warning them of the dangers and encouraging responsibility and caution. Also, he advises parents to be on the lookout for any warning signs of a gambling addiction. He says most surveys indicate that teens have gambling problems at twice the rate of adults.

Whyte finds the statistics troubling for a number of reasons. “We know that the earlier someone starts to gamble, the more likely they are to have a gambling problem,” he notes. “We also know that kids who gamble are very likely to engage in other risk-taking behaviors such as substance abuse, delinquency, fighting, embezzlement, theft, and white-collar crime.”

The NCPG is the national advocate for programs and services designed to assist problem gamblers and their families. Whyte, who has served as the organization's executive director since 1998, also sits on the Advisory Board of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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