Gambling Addiction Rises Among Young Adults

Mississippi casinos don't allow people under 21 inside their gaming halls. But more and more young adults and teens are getting addicted to gambling. Experts call it a silent and symptomless problem one that's growing among high school and college students.

Experts say the growth of gambling in our state, puts Mississippi youths at a greater risk of developing an addiction. They say young people need to learn early, gambling comes with risks. "We have to help people understand there is no skill involved in gambling, no skill at all, this is purely a luck activity. Statistically, over time, you must lose more than you will win," said Dr. Howard Shaffer, Harvard Medical School.

The director of Housing and Residence Life at Mississippi State University, Dr. Ann Bailey, says, at first, students start gambling out of curiosity and perhaps, boredom. "We are located near a casino. A casino for us is located in Philadelphia, it's about an hour to hour and half away, it makes for a very pleasant quick road trip where students can go and if they gamble consistently they can have alcohol freely."

According to Bailey, online gambling is also an easy outlet for students. She said that because most people have computers or access to one this allows them to gamble all they want, especially if they have a credit card.

"When somebody's drinking or doing drugs, you can normally always see it. When somebody's gambling there's no such thing as blackjack breath or slot machine marks on the arms," said Roger Svendsen, Minnesota Public Health.

Addiction is mainly a private disease and experts say prevention is the best cure.

If you'd like more information on gambling addictions you can call the national help line at 1-888-777-9696, or go to the Mississippi Gambler web site.