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Could teens be gambling despite restrictions? | FOX61 Student News

"Because of the way that the younger brain is made up, you are more at risk…so the younger you use, the riskier it is."

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Story by Spencer Peterson, Hall High School 

When many people think about gambling they think of casinos, slot machines, and Las Vegas, But as we move further into the digital age, the way people gamble is changing. As online gambling continues to grow, we see that more people have access to gambling consistently throughout their day, including many underage users.

Many wonder how these companies can allow underage gambling on their services, and the answer is that they don't. Many online betting companies, of course, say that underage users are prohibited from their platforms, such as Fanduel, who told ABC News that they “strictly prohibit underage gambling on their platform and have a verification process set up to restrict minor access.”

But shockingly, when I attempted to make an account with a popular betting platform, called Fliff, I was met with little resistance. 

We did this all under the supervision of my grandpa, and, just like us, he was shocked. All we needed to do was give an email and check off that we were older than 21 (which the app doesn’t verify) and we were given access to Fliff’s online sportsbook, which allowed us to make money line and player prop bets, as well as parlays and much more. 

“So a 13-year-old who looks at this is naturally going to check [that they are] 18 years old, because [they] know..it’s going to be adult stuff…that’s very dangerous," said  Spencer Peterson Sr. 

For more insight into how gambling can affect the teenage mind, I sat down with Katie Houghtaling, a social worker at Hall High School. 

“So, there’s often this common saying…that the brain isn’t fully developed," said Houghtaling. We asked her about how, specifically, the teenage mind deals with addiction. 

“Because of the way that the younger brain is made up, you are more at risk…so the younger you use, the riskier it is.” 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, call the national gambling helpline 800.522. 4700 

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