Michigan state Senator Joseph N. Bellino Jr. recently introduced Senate Bill 54, which would require the state Department of Education to develop a model program of instruction on responsible gambling by July 1, 2024.
The program would be grade and age appropriate and be available to all school districts. The bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.
In a statement, Bellino said, “With the popularity of mobile betting apps and online sports betting now being legal in over 30 states, teenagers are having problems with gambling addiction. It has been reported that many young people don’t see gambling as risky and that the percentage of high school students with a gambling problem is double that of adults. My bill has bipartisan support to head off this growing problem by acting to raise awareness among our students about the real risks of gambling.”
Michigan high school students currently receive education about the risks of using drugs and alcohol. Bellino said, “Just as our teachers currently inform students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, we need them to also educate them about the serious consequences of gambling addiction.”
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) also plans to expand its responsible gaming outreach program, according to MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams. Last fall, the commission launched a campaign directed to parents, siblings and peers of teenagers to make them aware of the signs of problem gambling in teens. Recently the MGCB requested and received funding for additional responsible gaming resources and staff.
Players must be at least 21 years old to gamble on all 15 online apps in Michigan. Several tribal casinos in the state allow 18-year-olds to gamble; one allows 19-year-olds. The three Detroit casinos require players to be at least 21 years of age.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, between 60 percent and 80 percent of high school students say they gambled for money in the past year. Also, the NCPG said 4 percent to 6 percent of high school students are considered to be gambling addicts and EarthWeb said about 6 percent of college students are addicted to gambling.