Educating the young


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

New awareness campaign aimed at showing the 'other side' to young people

The Hamilton Spectator reports from Canada that the Responsible Gaming Council has launched an initiative aimed at educating college students on the warning signs pointing to possible gambling problems.

All in the name of responsible gambling, students at the McMaster University campus got a chance to win two $100 certificates or a grand prize of a $1,500 scholarship in the initiative. Staff of the nonprofit Responsible Gambling Council buttonholed students and warned them of the problem signs of gambling as they handed out draw ballots at the Mohawk College Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the Mac campus.

The newspaper reports that there's a worrying increase in the number of young people 18 to 24 trying to win big at poker and online gambling, and the council wants them to know where and how they can get help.

A recent survey indicated 6.9 percent of young people in the region experienced moderate to severe gambling problems. It found participation in online poker among 18-24 year olds rose from 1.4 percent in 2001 to 5.5 percent by 2005, an increase of almost 400 percent.

So strategically placed across from a coffee kiosk at the health sciences building, the council spread its message.

The RGC will visit about 30 university and college campuses in the months ahead as part of a "Know the Score" campaign.

In addition, Ontario will spend $2 million on a new public awareness campaign on youth gambling. The public awareness campaign, similar to another one last year by the council, will run through the winter months.

A TV ad last year featured a young man who started cutting off contact from friends because he became addicted to online gambling.

"Young people see the glamourisation of gambling and they need to hear the other side," said council CEO John Kelly. "The vast majority of people who gamble are not whiz kids who made a lot of money. We need to get out there with the message this can be recreation or it can be something that can get you into a lot of trouble. They need to have a realistic understanding of your chances of winning and losing."

The education campaign includes advice to young people on the warning signs of excessive gambling:

* Thinking more and more about the game

* Skipping classes or work to gamble

* Often spending more money or time than intended

* Spending more money to win back money that's been lost

* Lying to family and friends about gambling

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