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Experts Call for Regulatory Crackdown on US Gambling As Underage Addiction Spikes

Counselors and clinicians are calling for a regulatory crackdown on gambling amid a dramatic spike in gambling addiction among young people, Callum Jones reports for The Guardian. Treatment clinics are grappling with an influx of patients in their teens and early 20s and helplines are reporting record levels of calls. While you are required to be 21 to bet on sports in most states in which it is legal, or 18 to take part in fantasy contests in much of the US, underage activity is a cause of mounting unease.

As brains do not typically finish developing until people reach their mid-20s, those placing bets before this point cannot fully process the associated risks. New Jersey, the state that led the charge for the legalization of sports betting and, in 2018, successfully convinced the supreme court to overturn a decades-old federal law that prohibited the state from legalizing sports betting. In 2018, 11.5 percent of people who contacted New Jersey’s gambling support service and disclosed an age provided one under 25. During the first 10 months of 2023, this bracket accounted for 19.6 percent of calls, texts or chat messages in which an age was disclosed.

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