Online Gambling & Credit Card Debt: Teens at Risk?

Experts hypothesize that gambling additions are at least as destructive as addictions to alcohol, heroin and cocaine, and the Internet has provided yet another avenue through which gambling addicts can satisfy their cravings.

Although gambling, as a rule, is not allowed for persons under the age of 18, a recent study proved that at least 70% of teens have admitted to gambling at one point in their lives. Granted, much of that gambling may be “schoolyard dares” and the like, but Internet gambling among teens is an increasing problem.

Poker, lotteries, online casinos and others have been major attractants for teenagers and children who feel that they can make a few dollars by gambling illegally with their parents’ credit cards and their own bank cards. The Internet has facilitated a way for anonymity to be achieved and teenagers to pose as adults.

Some people argue that gambling is not an addiction because there is no chemical alteration involved. However, studies have shown that

adrenaline levels increase during gambling, producing a natural high for those involved. Teenagers are even more susceptible than adults because they are less able to handle these types of incentives.

Recently, an Internet gambler in Scotland attempted to commit suicide after losing £158,000 on his parents’ credit cards. How often do teens get ahold of their parents’ credit cards, and how much money has been lost with teenage gambling?

Aside from the legal issues that arise from teenage gambling, the economical implications are equally as devastating. When a teenager (or anyone else, for that matter) steals a credit card in order to gamble online, the parents must report the matter to the police or be held responsible for the charges incurred. In the aforementioned case, the parents were forced to file a police report, and the young man will be facing jail time as a result.

Internet gambling is made irresistibly available to teenagers looking to make money online. All they need is a valid credit card number, and they can place bets and lose money just as easily as an adult. But who should be responsible for this travesty among teenagers, and what can be done to stop this rising trend?

Protect Your Credit Cards

A parent should never make his or her credit cards readily available to teenage children. As a rule, they are unfamiliar with the way that credit cards work and how quickly money can be lost in gambling. When given a credit card, their first thought is to use it, and you might end up with high-dollar charges.

Keep your credit cards in your wallet or in a safe place where they cannot be easily found. Routinely check to make sure that you still have them, and that ever card is accounted for. Make sure to examine your monthly statements carefully, and to inquire about any unfamiliar charges. Many times, teenage gambling starts with a small loss, but can quickly escalate if the behavior is not stopped.

Restrict Internet Access

When the Internet was first made available in homes, it was restricted actively by concerned parents. But with the advent of high-speed Internet and the regular use of the Internet in schools and at home, parents and school administrators may become relaxed in their regulations.

It is important to control what your teenagers view on the Internet, and to make sure that they aren’t using Internet gambling websites. One click is enough to entice the interest of a teenager, and if it isn’t stopped, it can quickly become a problem.

Discuss Credit Cards

Once they turn 18, teenagers are solicited by financial institutions to obtain credit cards in their name because banks know that young people are easy targets.

Inform your teenagers about credit history, how credit is used, and what damage poor credit can cause. Explain how interest on credit cards is calculated and that the appropriation of a credit card is illegal. Uninformed teenagers may not understand the consequences, and it is up to the parents to educate them.

Discuss Gambling

Teenagers might not realize how harmful gambling can be, so it is up to parents to discuss it with them. Explain that the Internet is not a place to make a fast buck, and that gambling can quickly turn into an addiction.

It is important that teenagers understand the consequences of their actions, and be held responsible for their decisions.

Monitor Bank Card Use

Teenagers can open bank accounts at an early age, but don’t give them free run with their money. A simple ATM card with a Visa or MasterCard logo works just as well as a credit card on the Internet.

Insist that they share their monthly statement with you and keep tabs on the way that they use their bank cards. This might prevent a terrible disaster with Internet gambling.

Seek Help

If you fear that your teenager has become addicted to gambling – whether on the Internet or not – seek help immediately from a professional. A psychiatrist or a support group like Gamblers’ Anonymous can help your teenager to beat his or her addiction.