Gaming officials raise concerns of gambling addictions among young people

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Gaming officials raise concerns of gambling addictions among young people
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According to the Council on Compulsive Gambling, just under 10% of callers to the problem gambling hotline were between 18-24 years old.

YORK, Pa. — Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, gaming officials are raising concerns about an increase in gambling addictions among young people.

According to the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania—2,693 people called the state’s problem gambling hotline in 2023. Of that, 268 of those callers were between 18-24 years old. Eleven children between 13-17 years old also called the hotline.

“The younger that someone starts with an activity, the higher we see rates of problems develop," said Josh Ercole, the executive director of the CCGP. “That’s obviously a concern because, a lot of times, that’s going to pave the way for their next formative years, and it could be spent in a problematic fashion.”

The increase in problem youth gambling comes alongside the rise of social sportsbooks and casinos. Social sportsbooks are online gambling sites that aren’t regulated by state gaming commissions.

Liz Lanza, the director of the Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling at the Pa. Gaming Control Board, said these sites may not have the same guardrails to protect their users.

“The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board requires our licensees to display a pop-up at least once an hour that shares how much the individual has wagered and how much time they have been wagering," said Lanza. "Unregulated sites aren’t required to have that reality check because they aren’t regulated.”

Lanza added that the Pa. Gaming Control Board displays a logo on all legal and regulated betting sites, while social betting sites do not.

She said it’s important for parents to educate their kids about gambling and the risks of addiction.

“It shouldn’t be something that’s brought up when somebody turns 18 or 21," said Lanza. "It’s something that people should be speaking to children about.”

Anyone who has a gambling problem is encouraged to text or call 1-800-Gambler.