As a child, you probably played card games such as rummy, war, slap jack or even poker. Poker for fun of course! Then there is bingo, which you may have been introduced to by your school or your church. These games can be addictive. I am not sure which is worse these days, games like these or the typical video game. The seed of a gambling addiction can be planted at a very early age and start to grow with time. As an individual gains access to more money and freedom, what was a fun past time can morph into a full-fledged gambling problem. Gambling on our college campuses is becoming more widespread primarily because of the ease and convenience of online gambling.
What is currently happening in our country is that campus gambling and the potential hazards of it are becoming all too evident. Moreover, to think it might be stemming from the innocent games played as a child is quite possible. A former athlete once told me that his gambling began in college. He and his teammates would play poker on the bus while traveling to play intercollegiate baseball. Some guys would be studying, others listening to music, but most would be gambling. The same thing would happen when they got to the hotel, if time allowed. Then, if it happened to rain, the game got canceled and the gambling would be an all-day event. It was a big joke when some players would gamble away their meal money. But for those of us working with gambling addicts, it was one of the signs that gambling was becoming a problem. Usually, the coach would have pity on the player and take care of his tab. This was a nice gesture, but probably the type of enabling that can give the gambler the impression that he will always find a way out of trouble.
A recent article discusses some of the reasons young people gamble, as well as some of the signs that they might have a problem. No matter what type of gambling a young person is into, the results can be life altering. It is about time our society realizes that even the young are vulnerable. We need to better educate our youth about the choices they make and the unintended consequences that can occur; poor grades, low self-esteem, anxiety and losing friends, to name just a few. If we educate our children, limit the access to gambling and other addictive situations, they can have a future with unlimited possibilities.