The younger a child starts gambling, the more problems could develop

To the Editor:

Underage gambling is a growing concern in New York state.

The explosion of internet gambling and gaming opportunities — combined with the inescapable advertising and marketing of gaming and gambling everywhere from television to the corner store —relentlessly expose our children to enticing messages of winning, risk-taking and excitement from a very early age.

Alarming statistics reveal that almost 40 percent of youth ages 12-17 have gambled this past year with in-game items or real money, and 30 percent of these youth state that they began gambling at age 10 or younger.

Youth who gamble are more likely to get lower grades, use tobacco and illegal drugs, get into fights, have mental health issues and become involved in crime. And studies show the earlier a child starts gambling, the more likely they are to have problems due to gambling later in life.

Parents of children as young as six years old can reduce the risk of their kids ending up with a gambling problem by talking with them about gambling. Start by asking questions — and listening. And, help them figure out sensible alternatives to gambling.

To learn helpful tips and view brief educational videos showing real-life scenarios of parents speaking with their children about the possible serious consequences of their gaming and gambling activities, please visit Talk2Kids.org.

JENNA HOTALING

Team Leader, Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center

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