NJ Experts Worried About ‘Inevitable’ Spike in Underage Gambling
When you try to log on to a sports betting app, it needs to make sure you're located within the state of New Jersey.
Maybe it'll even send you a code by text or email to ensure that the owner of the account is the one who's trying to gain access.
But once the app is open and ready for wagers, operators can't really tell who's placing the bets.
Industry observers say the major barriers to underage gambling are basically gone, at least here in New Jersey. And while we won't know the full effect of online wagering on youth for several years, they say it's inevitable that there will be more issues thanks to easier access today.
"Parents have called our 800-GAMBLER helpline and have indicated that their child has developed a gambling problem," said Felicia Grondin, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey.
Gambling is not only more accessible today; it's become more socially acceptable, Grondin said.
And advertising on television, radio, or the web, with promotions for free bets and money-back offers, she said, makes the act of gambling seem more glamorous than risky.
"This makes a very, very big impression upon our kids," Grondin said.
The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey is neither for nor against gambling, but promotes responsible gaming and resources for those who want to stay away.
Along with other experts in the state, Grondin points to research on underage gambling as a reason for concern. An adolescent who engages in gambling activity is more likely to develop a gambling problem as an adult, the research finds.
In New Jersey, according to Lia Nower, director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers, six percent of residents have a "serious gambling problem." That's three times the national average.
"There are no education or prevention programs in schools to alert students to the dangers of problem gambling or teachers or administrators to the need to identify and screen for gambling problems," Nower told us.
Increased acceptability, accessibility, and availability of gambling opportunities generally correlate with higher rates of problems, she said.