If you think the rising trend of internet gambling isn’t serious, take a look at the latest headline coming from The Hill. This week, the political site referenced a hearing that took place run by House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations Chair James Sensenbrenner. In it, a stern warning was issued regarding addictions among online betters. Sensenbrenner was joined by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who raised similar concerns about this disturbing trend.
According to The Hill, internet gambling is now the fastest growing addiction among kids, high schoolers and college students in the U.S. Why, you ask? Because of its immediacy and accessibility. Thanks to cell phones, laptops and video games, sports betting is available 24/7 and can happen with the simple click of a button.
This type of behavior has also spiraled into much more dangerous territory. One recent example involved a University of Wisconsin honor student who lost over $72,000 in tuition money because of internet sports bets. To collect his debt, the young man wound up killing three of his fellow students and ultimately committed suicide.
The Hill went on to report that this has become a worldwide epidemic. In the United Kingdom, kids as young as 11 are getting hooked on internet betting. In fact, 1 in 7 children aged 11 to 16 gamble regularly. And this is a stat that outpaces kids who smoke cigarettes, consume alcohol or experiment with drugs. It is also worth noting that this trend is increasing at an alarming rate. The UK stat, for example, went up 400 percent over the past two years alone.
Senator Schumer, an admitted sports fan, took time out to speak with ABC News about the subject; urging his fellow constituents to take notice of this problem.
“As a New York sports fan and a senator, my priority is making sure the integrity of the games we love is preserved, that young people and those suffering from gambling addiction are not taken advantage of, and that consumers that choose to engage in sports betting are appropriately protected,” he told the site. “It is incumbent on the federal government to take a leadership role and provide the necessary guidance to prevent uncertainty and confusion for the leagues, state governments, consumers and fans alike.”
As he referenced (and The Hill pointed out), the true solution here is to put more regulations in place to make this type of behavior less accessible, particularly for young people. Many of these sites offer enticements and deceptive marketing campaigns to lure their followers in. The hope now, is that they will be called out for their unethical behavior and more governmental safeguards will be put in place.