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Big Game. Big Gaming. Big Gambling? How Parents Can Change The Game on Youth Gambling

Published: January 28, 2020

The biggest football game of the year is coming up soon, and “Before You Bet” wants to use the big day as a reminder of a much bigger issue that impacts parents and families on a daily basis.

Gaming and Gambling:

Children play games every day. Some we know about; some we don’t. Some of those games may have unintended consequences for children, their families, and their community at large.

More than 100 million Americans regularly play on social casino apps according to a PBS Newshour investigation. It’s legal, but it can also be problematic. Turns out many online games feature elements like loot boxes. They look harmless, but psychological experts say the experience of getting a loot box reward is almost the same as playing a slot machine, and they’re already seeing a rise in young people with gambling related issues as a result. 

Major brands are taking notice. The similarities between loot boxes and slot machines prompted some major video game companies to disclose loot box odds. Apple also rated games with simulated gambling as M for Mature. 

Sports Wagering:

Sports betting, both legal and illegal, continues to be an issue for families as well. Sports betting is becoming mainstream, and the Super Bowl is a gateway experience into this new world. In 2019, nearly 23 million Americans bet $6 billion on the Super Bowl according to the American Gaming Association

Major networks like ESPN and FOX have daily sports wagering shows and routinely put point spreads on their tickers. No wonder a Zion Market Research report predicts the legal sports betting market will be $155 billion industry four years from now.

Parents and care providers should watch out for common signs that gaming is turning into gambling.

  • Students miss classes or school days with no explanation.
  • Grades suddenly drop.
  • Extracurricular activities aren’t as important.
  • Children suddenly care much more about the scores of games, even if their favorite teams aren’t playing.
  • Interest grows in money or value of possessions.
  • Students “lose” more items at school.

Monitoring and reducing screen time is one way to address gaming and possible gambling, but it’s not always realistic. There’s also a groundbreaking new campaign. Change the Game raises awareness regarding the realities of youth gambling and connects parents, educators and children to free prevention and treatment resources.

  • A free community toolkit has customizable resources appropriate for organizations that parents, children, and those working with children can use.
  • Free educational materials for parents, educators, and young people can help people better understand if they have a potential problem with gambling.

Change the Game isn’t just working to prevent future gambling problems among our youth. We’re working to help those being affected right now. More than 90,000 Ohioans are problem gamblers, and the rise in legal and illegal gambling will only continue to grow in 2020.

We want people to enjoy games, whether it’s the one on Super Bowl Sunday or the one on your child’s iPad. Change the Game helps do that at no cost, and that might be the biggest win of all this Super Bowl season.

Resources are available at no charge thanks to Ohio for Responsible Gambling. Anyone can contact Beth Burson at Origo Branding through or call (614) 784-0020 ext. 113 to learn more or order free materials.

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