Increasing Internet Gamblers in the midst of America's Youth

Written by Brian M. on 2010-10-20 at 18:50
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As the next generation becomes more attuned to life online, sources of amusement can be discovered shifting from offline adventures to online equivalents. This is not just true for socializing and hooking up, but also for internet gambling in the United States.

The latest National Annenberg Survey of Youth shows 16 percent of college-aged (18 to 22 years old) males used online gambling sites this year. By comparison, only 4.4 percent of college males – 12 percent less -- used internet betting services in 2008. Meanwhile high school aged (14 to 17 years old) males also increased their usage from 2.7 percent to 6.2 percent.

The report also indicated that some high school females are also seeking online entertainment, but the numbers are not as high and the change not as drastic. While 1.5 percent of young women game today, only 0.5 percent played in 2008.

On a superficial level, this would seem to suggest wagering is getting more popular, but in general, the opposite may actually be true. Further study revealed that the combine percent of both online and offline wagering actually decreased for young men and stayed or dropped the same for college age women. Bucking the trend, however, the overall rate of gambling increased 9 percent among high school females.

This national survey was performed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Adolescent Communication Institute (ACI) in two parts. In 2008, telephone inquiries were made to 835 respondents between 14 and 22. In 2010, a similar examination questioned 596 respondents.

While it may not seem completely fair to extrapolate such a relatively small sample upon the behavior of the entire nation’s youth, the researchers went on to suggest that each month 1.7 million college age males now gamble online each month and 400,000 are actually gambling each week. Likewise, another 530,000 high school males are gambling each month.

Whether these numbers are taken for optimistic, pessimistic, or unrealistic, ACI director Dan Romer concluded one thing which is certainly true: "The dramatic increase in use of online gambling by college-aged male youth indicates that payment restrictions on such sites are no longer a barrier to young people."

An interesting follow-up study could include information on how young people are successfully bypassing payment restrictions. Despite America’s boastful claims of “freedom” and “liberty”, American gambling laws are notoriously limiting.

To play most games in most states, a player must be 18 or even 21. Casinos or their proxies, such as electronic wallets, require bank or credit card details to open accounts. American banks are forbidden to process online casino transactions. Moreover, 18 is the minimum age for credit cards, unless a legal adult is the primary account holder. Particularly for collecting winnings, the process -- even for legal age gamblers -- can often seem arduous as online casinos require extensive proof of identity before making payments.

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