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article imageYoung adults in Nova Scotia bitten by gambling bug

By Bob Ewing     Dec 11, 2009 in Lifestyle
They may be too young to get into casinos but that has not stopped youth in Nova Scotia from becoming addicted to gambling.
Whether it is fantasy sports, bingo or online gambling sites, young people in Nova Scotia are spending their time and money gambling.
Luke DeWitt spoke to the ChronicleHerald.ca and says he has been eating, sleeping and breathing fantasy sports since he was 12.
He said "Once they have a credit card, there are a ton of sports book sites out there that you can gamble at. Pools and fantasy leagues have fees you pay to play, with the winner getting a lump sum.”
Jeffrey Derevensky, co-director for the Internet Centre for Youth Gambling, Problems and High-Risk Behaviours at McGill University, spoke to the ChronicleHerald and said "there are more and more opportunities to gamble, there are many more venues. Gambling has become normalized in our society."
While schools provide information about drugs, sex and alcohol little is said about gambling.
"Monopoly, a game for kids, is now a lottery ticket, so is Battleship, Twister and so on. They (gaming corporations) say they’re not targeting kids, that they’re supposed to be nostalgic for adults, but we’re very concerned about these themes.
"Much like the cigarette industry, they’re targeting kids. They want kids down the line to gamble," he told the ChronicleHerald.
Marie Mullally, president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, also spoke to the paper and said "the reality is that youth are gambling online, and they haven’t yet evolved their ability to make mature decisions."
A program run by the corporation is in year two of a three year pilot program which is aimed at young people ages eight to 24.
The initiative is to educate in schools and community organizations to help youth make informed decisions about gambling.
There is another program intended to raise awareness of the risks of gambling, signs of a problem and where to get help.
Don’t Bet On It, is a joint initiative with the Responsible Gaming Council and the provincial gambling corporation, created in 2007 for students in grades 10, 11 and 12.
In 2008, a study looked at youth gambling and a follow-up study is planned for next year.
"We’ve yet to have a prevalent youth gambling study. It will give us our baseline data," said Natalie Cochrane, manager from prevention and problem gambling services at Nova Scotia Health Promotion and Protection.
The problems the 2008 study found included academic problems, damaged relationships, and feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression, and it found that 12 per cent of adolescents risked having gambling problems.
The 2010 study "will inform government and district health authorities to help them target programs," Cochrane told the ChronicleHerald.
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