Sen. Joseph Bellino on Tuesday introduced a bill in the Michigan Senate intended to have schools warn the state’s teenagers about the risks of excessive gambling.
Senate Bill 54 would require the state Department of Education to develop a program of instruction on gambling addiction by July 1, 2024, and make it available to public school districts and academies. In a press release, the Republican legislator’s office said the bill has bipartisan support.
“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,” Bellino said in the release. “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.”
Michigan launched legal mobile sports betting and iCasino in January of 2021. A study by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) found that between 60% and 80% of high school students reported having gambled for money in the past year, while 4% to 6% of high schoolers met the criteria for a gambling addiction. The study also found that 5% of teenagers met at least one of the criteria for having a gambling problem, including feeling a rush while gambling or being willing to write IOUs to stay in the game.
“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,” Bellino said.
The bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee.
Michigan got low marks in iGaming
On a related note, the NCPG said in a report last week that Michigan is one four iCasino states — along with Delaware, Nevada and West Virginia — that falls “drastically short of NCPG’s minimum responsible gambling standards.”
In iCasino, bettors are able to play Las Vegas-style table games and slots on their mobile devices. It is widely considered one of the most addictive forms of gambling in part since it is available 24-7.
The NCPG, which offers a 24-hour problem gambling helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER or via www.1800gamblerchat.org, actually gave Michigan high marks for its efforts to stop underage gambling.
Photo: Adam Cairns/USA TODAY