LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Joseph Bellino on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation to help inform Michigan teenagers about the risks associated with gambling.
“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,” said Bellino, R-Monroe. “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.”
Senate Bill 54 would require the state Department of Education to develop a grade- and age-appropriate model program of instruction on gambling addiction by July 1, 2024, and make it available to school districts and public-school academies.
Although the legal age for gambling ranges from 18 to 21 depending on the state, between 60% and 80% of high school students report having gambled for money in the past year, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. The group also said 4% to 6% of high schoolers are considered addicted to gambling.
About 5% of all young people between age 11 and 17 meets at least one of the criteria for a gambling problem, such as liking the “rush” felt when gambling, writing IOUs to stay in the game and wanting to win “the big one” so much that they keep playing even when losing a great deal.
“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.
SB 54 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.