actions against Adolescent Gambling in The US

In the Harvard meta-analysis, it was noted that “… compared to adults, youth have had more exposure to gambling during an age when vulnerability is high and risk-taking behavior is a norm; consequently, these young people have higher rates of disordered gambling than their more mature and less vulnerable counterparts.” 111

A study presented to the commission by Louisiana State University Professor James Westphal also drew a link between compulsive gambling and criminal behavior among youth. Louisiana adolescents in juvenile detention are roughly four times as likely to have a serious gambling problem as their peers. Further, two-thirds of the juvenile problem gamblers in detention reported stealing to finance their gambling. 112

While the chapter, “Problem and Pathological Gambling,” will address the clinical aspects of this subject, there have been a variety of local initiatives to address youth gambling. In Great Britain, “Parents of Young Gamblers,” a support organization, has been developed to directly meet the needs of very young pathological gamblers and their families. 113 Such an approach allows for relaxation training, avoidance of gambling opportunities, and family and peer support, including supervision of a young person’s money. 114 One creative example of out-reach is within America’s Southeast Asian community. Several organizations, including the United Cambodian Association of Minnesota and the Lao Family Community of Minnesota, developed a prevention and education program to inform young Southeast Asians about the hazards of adolescent gambling. 115 A similar booklet has been created for the general population by the Minnesota Institute of Public Health. 116 The Minnesota Council on Compulsive Gambling has prepared a package containing a booklet, loose-leaf papers, and a video targeted to teenage gambling. 117 The goal of the materials is to enhance critical thinking and to help identify compulsive behaviors.

Some sectors of the legal gambling industry have taken the initiative to begin to address adolescent gambling. For example, the Nevada Retail Gaming Association has developed a program to post stickers on slot and video poker games to warn against illegal gambling by adolescents. The Nevada Council on Problem Gambling has created literature to distribute to casinos and players. Several conferences have been funded by the gambling industry to increase research and awareness. Recognizing the importance of these problem, the American Gaming Association (AGA) created a task force to develop underage gambling prevention programs and policies and established a partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to address the issue of missing and unattended children in casinos. Standards have been set for employee awareness of attempts at underage gambling, communication with employees about how to stop underage gambling, and guest awareness that underage gambling will not be tolerated. On-going training and orientation efforts are underway. The industry has made several statements that adolescent gambling is neither wanted nor acceptable. 118 In 1997, both AGA President Frank Fahrenkopf and casino owner Donald Trump spoke against adolescent gambling and urged casino employees to keep adolescents out of casinos. 119

110 Proimos, et al. “Gambling and Other Risk Behaviors Among 8 th and 12 th Grade Students,” Pediatrics, Vol. 102, No. 2 (August 1998). 111 Howard Shaffer, et al., Estimating the Prevalence of Disordered Gambling Behavior in the United States and Canada: A Meta-Analysis (1997), p. 5. 112 James R. Westphal, “Adolescent Gambling Behavior,” Louisiana State University Medical Center— Shreveport, presented to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, Las Vegas (November 11, 1998). 113 Jean Schroeder, “Youth and Gambling: A Review of Literature,” Report of the North American Training Institute (1995). 114 See Mark D. Griffiths, “Factors in Problem Adolescent Fruit Machine Gambling: Results of Small Postal Survey,” 9 Journal of Gambling Studies, 31-47 (1993). 115 Roger Svendsen, Southeast Asian Youth Prevention Education Program (pamphlet), developed in conjunction with the Minnesota Institute of Public Health (April 1997). 116 Roger Svendsen and Tom Griffin, Gambling: Choices and Guidelines (pamphlet) (1993). 117 North American Training Institute, Wanna Bet (booklet, papers, and video) (September 1998)