It has been reported that many young people don’t see gambling as risky and that the percentage of high school students with a gambling problem is double that of adults. Michigan lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan proposal to have the state Department of Education make responsible gambling materials available for both public and private schools in support of K-12 instruction on gambling addiction.
SB 54 directs the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to make “a grade- and age-appropriate model program of instruction on gambling addiction“ available in public and private schools by July 1, 2024.
It’s important to note that the legislation does not mandate that responsible gambling materials be included in K-12 instruction. SB 54 would merely ensure that material for such instruction is available.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Joseph Bellino Jr. (R-Monroe) on February 7. It was immediately referred to the Senate Committee on Education for further consideration. Sens. John Cherry (D-Flint), Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), and Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville) served as co-sponsors.
“With the popularity of mobile betting apps and online sports betting now being legal in over 30 states, teenagers are having problems with gambling addiction,” Bellino said in a statement. “It has been reported that many young people don’t see gambling as risky and that the percentage of high school students with a gambling problem is double that of adults.
“My bill has bipartisan support to head off this growing problem by acting to raise awareness among our students about the real risks of gambling. Just as our teachers currently inform students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, we need them to also educate them about the serious consequences of gambling addiction.”
It’s unclear what the changes for passage are for SB 54.
Regulator Took Separate Action Last Fall
Last fall, the National Council of Problem Gambling (NCPG) warned that about 60% of high-school-aged adolescents report having gambled for money within the last year, and 10%-14% of adolescents are at risk for developing a problem with gambling.
“Of utmost concern are the 4%-6% of adolescents that research has shown already have a serious problem with gambling,” NCPG said at the time.
NCPG says data show boys are more likely to gamble and experience gambling problems than girls and that most parents of teens view gambling as “an innocuous behavior with few negative consequences.”
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) also took action in the fall, advising parents that their children’s “tween” years — generally considered between 9 and 13 — are the best time to discuss responsible gambling.
MGCB said it was spurred into action after learning that about seven out of ten students aged 14 to 19 will wager money on poker and other games this year. The regulator took a proactive stance on the issue, positing that discussing responsible gaming with children and adolescents during the tween years can help avoid problems later.
Regulators cited research from the International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG) that shows between 2% and 7% of young people experience a gambling problem. ICRG also estimates that between 6% and 15% of youth have less severe gambling problems.
But the organization also said the rate of gambling problems among youth appears to have been flat for the last 25 years, despite a plethora of online gambling options.