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Study Shows Parents Clueless about Their Children's Gambling Habits

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A recent poll has uncovered the reality of underage gambling. It found that an overwhelming majority of parents admit that they have no knowledge of their children's gambling habits.

Underage Gambling Prevalent

The poll by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Michigan revealed that only 25% of parents have discussed virtual betting with their teenagers. It was based on responses from 923 parents with at least one 14- to 18-year-old and exposed a concerning lack of awareness among parents regarding their state's legal age for online gambling.

Related: Research Shows Markers Pointing to Gambling-Related Harm

Over half admitted they were unaware of the legal age. Additionally, one in six parents acknowledged that they probably wouldn't even know if their teenagers were engaging in online betting activities.

The landscape of online gambling has evolved significantly, with over half of US states legalizing some form of online gambling following a 2018 US Supreme Court ruling that reversed PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). While most states restrict online sports and casino betting to individuals aged 21 or older, there are concerns about potential loopholes that could allow teenagers to bypass security measures.

According to the poll, 2% of respondents believed their teenagers had used online betting platforms. Over half expressed confidence that they would be aware if their teenagers were involved in such activities.

The survey also highlighted that two-thirds of parents acknowledged their teenagers had bank accounts or debit/credit cards in their names. These provide potential uncontrolled avenues for online betting registration without parental knowledge.

Easy Access to Online Gaming

The clandestine nature of online betting among teenagers was emphasized, as they can easily access betting platforms on personal devices, delete search histories, conceal apps and discreetly engage in gambling activities. The ease of concealment raises concerns among parents about the challenges of detecting and preventing teenage involvement in online betting.

Exposure to online gambling advertisements is widespread, with more than six in 10 parents reporting that they have heard or seen ads for online sports or casino betting. The majority of parents expressed concerns about the risks associated with teenage gambling, with two-thirds believing that the legal age for online betting should be 21.

Concerns included the potential for youth to accumulate debt or develop gambling addictions. A quarter of parents who had discussed online betting with their teenagers specifically highlighted these risks.

Some parents advocated for strategies to minimize risks, such as implementing restrictions on betting after a certain loss amount, providing a "parent view" option to monitor online betting accounts, verifying legal age through photo ID, limiting bets within specific periods, and covering treatment costs for young individuals developing gambling addictions.

While there is a growing recognition of the need for regulations to address these concerns, attempts to introduce more stringent measures have faced challenges. A recent measure in Ohio, requiring parental consent for children under 16 to set up accounts on social media and online gaming platforms, was blocked by a judge just before it was set to go into effect.

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