Understanding online gambling problem

More than the danger of Internet pornography, what could pose as a more serious form of addiction for our young children is online gambling.

With mobile phones accessible to almost everybody, anyone with an Internet connection could easily find an online casino or sports betting site catering to their personal tastes and start placing bets.

Since the Internet revolutionized gambling at the turn of the century, online betting has moved on considerably, turning itself into a multimillion-dollar industry available to everyone 24/7. One doesn’t even need a desktop or laptop computer to be able to bet on slots, table games, or sports events. All one needs is a mobile phone which comes in handy wherever one is.

And this widespread, instant access to a world of gambling is what makes it dangerous for our underaged children. Like their adult counterparts, youngsters can be hooked far easier with the availability of these websites. And that’s where the problem lies.

A recent study by the UK gambling commission revealed that 450,000 children from aged 11 to 16 wager money on a regular basis, and the number of those considered to have a problem quadrupled to over 50,000 within two years.

Here at home, one could only look at those minors hanging around online sabong stations before they were ordered closed by President Rodrigo Duterte late in his term.

It’s a shocking sight indeed as young, vulnerable sectors of our society are lured into this world of Internet gambling.

What’s more, it has been revealed that smartphone apps and video games containing loot boxes, such as EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2, which reportedly came under fire for its gambling feature, are a particularly dangerous trend, especially when they appear in games parents may assume are safe for their children.

What is disturbing, however, is when scam text messages inviting recipients to play in their online games reach the hands of the young subscribers, and you have a scenario that can blow up on our very own faces.

In fairness to online casinos and sports betting websites, regulations are in place to prevent underage gambling. Real-money games can be played only by people who create accounts and verify their ID, which makes bypassing checks much harder if not impossible.

But knowing how creative youngsters can be, children can easily find ways to join online casinos using a parent’s or older sibling’s details. Betting companies, observers say, can only do so much. The rest, of course, is up to parents and communities.

While mainstream media is vigilant with regard to access to hardcore pornography and other materials unsuitable for young children, underage gambling tends to be overlooked, according to the study. Families who provide children with an Internet connection could contribute to the problem.

While we all want our children to behave responsibly and make smart choices, measures have to be taken to protect them. Doing otherwise could lead to unhealthy habits that could have disastrous effects, including addiction that could lead to a path of debt, unemployment, difficulty maintaining relationships, and ultimately an inability to live a healthy lifestyle.

Both parents and gambling regulators, according to experts, have their work cut out for them considering the amount of advertising online gambling businesses receive in the media. Regulating advertising on the Internet is much harder, but organizations and brands must work together to safeguard underage people from dangers they may not fully comprehend.

If you suspect any of your children getting addicted to online gambling, experts advise maintaining a policy of open communication and honesty in the household. Make sure your children, too, can talk to you about anything.

Ignoring the problem could lead to consequences we all do not want to happen.

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