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Friday, February 02, 2007

The Rise in Teen Online Gambling

While doing some research on Internet gambling, I came across some amazing statistics. Two days after Congress cracked down on online gambling, new data released from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania show that more than one million young people currently are using Internet gambling sites on a monthly basis. Among males 18 to 22, Internet gambling doubled in the past year.

The new data are being released by the National Annenberg Risk Survey of Youth, which has tracked gambling among young people ages 14 to 22 since 2002. Based on the survey's most recent estimates, approximately 850,000 males ages 18 to 22 gamble online at least one a month. The corresponding number for males between 14 and 17 is 357,000.

Among the 18- to 22-year-old age group, weekly use of Internet gambling sites increased from 2.3% in 2005 to 5.8% this year, a statistically significant increase.

With a rise in online gambling comes a greater danger of addiction, according to Nancy Petry, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut’s Center for Gambling Research and Treatment.

In a recent study, Petry found that Internet gamblers were more likely to have a serious gambling than other gamblers. Furthermore, Internet gamblers were more likely to suffer from health and emotional problems such as substance abuse, circulatory disease, depression, and risky sexual behaviors.

As teens and pre-teens go online with greater frequency, the risk for addiction and the form it takes becomes greater. Old favorites such as sports betting and casino games still dominate the Internet but in the future there will be more opportunities that could draw new gamblers into the fold. People can go online and bet about whether Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will get married or if Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’s marriage will last. They can bet on the outcome of the Oscars or who will win on Survivor. These are the new kind of bets that are done by people who might not normally visit a gambling site.