The start of the school year coincides with a lot of activity in the sports world, like Major League Baseball gearing into its playoff runs, the National Football League in full swing, and the National Hockey League just getting underway for another season. With the newly introduced Responsible Gaming Education Month, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) is looking to help students learn about responsible gaming.
September is traditionally the time for back to school as students reconvene for the “three Rs,” but MGCB is looking to add a fourth R to the curriculum — responsible gaming. As September is also a significant time in the sporting world, the MGCB and the American Gaming Association (AGA) are teaming up to help bring awareness about the dangers of gambling to Michigan students.
While high school students, and many younger college students, cannot legally gamble in Michigan, that did not stop 60%-80% of high school students from wagering for money in the past year. Asas many as 6% of Michigan high school students “are addicted to gambling” according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.
Responsible Gaming Education Month runs throughout September via the MGCB as it partners with the national AGA to raise awareness of the dangers of gambling among youth, who are among the most vulnerable and inexperienced groups. The month of social media awareness aims to explain the dangers and provide tools that at-risk students can use to recognize and manage their gambling problems.
Problem Gambling in Students
While, by law, bettors in Michigan must be 21 years of age to gamble, and the state regulations are very clear and effective at keeping children off of the regulated gaming sites and out of land-based casinos and betting rooms, underage gamblers can still bet through “illegal gambling options not allowed under Michigan law” according to Henry Williams, MGCB Executive Director.
- 4-5% of youth, ages 12-17, meet one or more criteria of having a gambling problem
- 10-14% of youth, ages 12-17, are at risk of developing an addiction
- 60-80% of high school students have wagered money in the past year
- 4-6% of high school students are addicted to gambling
- Another 6-8% of high school students risk developing a severe gambling problem, or show signs of loss of control
- Boys are more likely to gamble and develop problem gambling habits than girls, but everyone is at risk
Parents and teachers should be on the lookout for some signs of problem gambling:
- Carrying things like dice, cards, or poker chips that can be used for gambling
- Using school-related money for gambling
- Missing essential activities, like class, to gamble
- Borrowing, stealing, or selling items to get money
- Possessing large amounts of unexplained cash
- Unusual and frequent calls from strangers
- Obsession with sports scores and stats
While many of these behaviors can also be explained in other ways, teens or young adults exhibiting one or more of these signs may be at risk for problem gambling.
Tools to Help Problem Gamblers
While raising awareness of the potential issues involved with gambling is the primary goal of Responsible Gaming Education Month, the program also highlights the resources available for people who might be suffering. MGCB-authorized gambling sites have tools to set self-imposed limits on deposits, wagers, and time spent gambling, and there are also self-exclusion options available through the official MGCB site.
Michiganders can also visit the AGA website for more details on nationwide efforts and resources, as well as the MGCB social media channels linked below:
Regulated gambling is a delicate balance between providing adults with entertainment and mitigating the severe risks that gambling can present to some people. Responsible Gaming Education Month is another step the MGCB is taking to help keep gambling a fun activity for adults while helping addicted gamblers control their behavior or quit entirely.