Rolling the dice: Teen gambling addiction a path to ruin

Imagine the unhindered excitement if you are told that you could make millions of dollars just by playing a simple game.

That is exactly how gambling entraps people. A simple swipe of the poker cards and all the cash on the table is yours – sparking the rush of adrenaline that convinces you to play again.

However, players below the legal age of 18 are also drawn to big money. And the addiction that forms deep in their minds could be detrimental to their future.

A study conducted by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NMCPG) published in 2015 found that 26.9 per cent of respondents from secondary schools in Malaysia have participated in some form of gambling, with 3.6 per cent being severely addicted to it. A total of 2,265 self-administered, anonymous questionnaires were distributed to the students.

The most common forms of gambling among youths involve card games, lottery tickets, and scratchy cards. Most would move on to more serious things as they grow up, such as sports betting, among others.

Moreover, they are most influenced by gambling advertisements online, those that are intended for adults. Video games with concurrent waging themes are also rated as appropriate for kids, which could spark interest, and then the gradual transition to the actual game.

The problem arises when they actually start playing.

Online gambling sites and games are often split into two modes – practice and normal. Users often start off with practice, which is often tailored to provide an easy experience. This leads to the user gaining confidence from their ever-rising winning streak – giving teenagers the impression that they are actually skilled in the game – and they would naturally proceed to start earning cash.

What initially seems like fun can devolve into a cycle of addiction that can lead to damaged relationships, poor academic performance, truancy, and increased financial debts, which they could spend the rest of their lives paying off.

But it’s not all bad. There is a remedy to reduce gambling addiction.

Youths can be encouraged to participate in more social activities, such as clubs or sports to eliminate the feeling of loneliness, a major cause of gambling.

Gambling might be fun initially, but it could turn into a nightmare. It’s best if one avoids it, or does it in moderation – that too only when you are of legal age.

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The views expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of Twentytwo13.