Kids playing poker

There were a few stories about the teen gambling “epidemic” around the wires this morning. Here’s one of the better ones, from the Asbury Park Press:

It takes more than luck to win at Texas Hold ‘Em, Eric Rothman says, which is why the 18-year-old high school senior enjoys putting his poker-playing skills to the test.

For classmate Buzzy Adriatico, 17, poker’s appeal is “the adrenaline . . . of (having) a big hand.”

“Looking down at a good hand is a great feeling,” agrees Josh Morgan, 19, a University of Cincinnati student. “And winning money is good, too.”

Seven teenage friends gathered at Rothman’s Batavia, Ohio, home on a recent Sunday afternoon and plunked down $10 apiece to play the popular poker game.

Such scenes have become common around the country, including Monmouth and Ocean counties, and there are few regulations that prohibit such friendly games.

National studies show the number of young people gambling on poker and other card games has skyrocketed in recent years, but while poker is a harmless diversion for most teens, experts caution the risks of gambling addiction are being overlooked.

“Most people can drink and they don’t become alcoholics. Most people can gamble and they don’t become compulsive gamblers,” says Lori Rugle, a clinical psychologist and president of the Ohio Council on Problem Gambling.

“But for that small percentage, which is comparable to the percentage that develops serious drug problems — (gambling addiction) is a life-threatening disorder.” She says about one-fourth of people in compulsive-gambling treatment programs attempt suicide.

Michael R. Stone, executive director of the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling, says studies have shown nearly 4 percent of teens are pathological, or compulsive, gamblers.

In any given week in this country, about 2.9 million people ages 14 to 22 are gambling on cards, and more than 80 percent are male, according to a report released this fall by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which has tracked teen gambling rates for several years.

The center’s recent survey of 900 young people found almost 42 percent of males say they gamble on cards at least once a month. That’s up 20 percent from summer 2004. (The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.)

APP.COM v4.0 – Gambling with your future | Asbury Park Press Online

I’m a little unsure about how you survey 900 teenagers and conclude that 2.9 million of them gamble, but there are definitely more kids gambling today. Will this end up in a backlash against gambling? Only time will tell.

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