WAMC News
12:00 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Study: Youth gambling isn't just entertainment

Gambling takes place every day and is a rapidly growing form of entertainment. With the Superbowl in the rearview mirror and March Madness full speed ahead, many people have been placing bets as they root for their favorite teams to make it to the Big Dance. It’s more than just a game; it’s a big business for gamblers.

A study done by the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems, says that between 60%-80% of high school students have gambled for money during the past year.

“We involve in gambling every single day. Every single day... Like I said, everywhere we go we gamble, everywhere we go, because it’s a part of life. It’s very serious, it affects a lot of people.”

Credit Flickr/fictures

That’s behavior health specialist and counselor at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke,

Mass., Juan Echevarria. Echevarria deals with helping those with addiction everyday.
Sports betting, in particular, has begun to attract the attention of a younger crowd. March Madness, Fantasy

Football, or betting on the Superbowl all make gambling look appealing and entertaining to a younger audience, especially because it’s available online anytime, anywhere.

Professor of Psychology from Western New England University in Springfield, Mass., Dennis Kolodziejski, shares his opinion on sports betting.

“Obviously, sports betting is pretty exciting. It’s the same kind of betting and gambling that comes up when you’re playing poker or you’re doing slots, so it’s not really all that different. What’s different about it is, for young people it appears to be somewhat harmless and fun and there are lots of people who, when March Madness comes up or even pro football season, make it even more exciting for themselves because they have money invested in betting on teams.”

Those who treat addiction know the most dangerous part about gambling is the immediate affect it can have on you. You may think gambling just once can’t hurt, but in some cases that’s all it takes. Again, counselor Juan Echevarria.

“You see, there’s a lot of people want to try one time, one time. But, that can be the end…You try once, you like it and you continue it and that is addictive behavior.”

That one time may be all it takes. And as Dennis Kolodziejski tells us, all addictions grow stronger over time, which makes gambling at a young age harder to control.

“It’s a little easier to become addicted when you’re younger.”

“It’s not easy when people have habits that have been formed at a young age and are very longstanding and tough to walk away from. It’s tough to develop other kinds of behaviors when you haven’t had the chance to do it.”

Jamie of Agawam, Mass. talks about her experience with gambling. She admits she was addicted to sports betting. She asked for last name to not be used in this report.

“It made the games much more interesting… You literally watch every single play. I watched every single game. The Monday night, the Thursday night, the 1 o’clock, the 4 o’clock the 8:30.”

“If I was down money, my thought process was I need to win it back. I mean there wasn’t a game I didn’t bet on Sunday. I was addicted. If it was on I needed to bet on it.”

Most people don’t understand how much they can be affected. They don’t think about the consequences. Again, Professor Kolodziejski.

“The difficulty is, the long term consequences of losing a lot don’t seem to affect our current behavior very much because immediate consequences affect our behavior more than the long term delayed consequences.”

“The problem is, again, with all gambling, unless something is really different about you, most gambling over the long haul is a loss. You can’t win.”

A gambling addiction can greatly affect you in the long run and in most cases, it doesn’t have a positive outcome.

Addiction counselors say when filling out your brackets or betting on your teams to be aware, for some gamblers this form of entertainment can become addictive.

Related Program