As Michigan sports betting is set to hit its peak season, and Michigan online casinos continue to flourish, the Michigan Gaming Control Board is pushing for responsible gaming to become a regular part of curriculum for at-risk students.
The MGCB, along with the gaming industry and regulators are advocating for this cause during the month of September, with a new school year beginning.
Should responsible gaming become part of education curriculum? Just what would that curriculum entail?
What’s driving the MGCB’s responsible gambling education push?
Michigan high school and college education tends to center around reading, writing and arithmetic. Adding responsible gaming to that is the hope of the MGCB.
Youth gambling is a growing issue. While online gaming has proven to be a successful industry for the state, it’s also allowed for increased access to minors.
“As fall sports begin, it’s a great time to remind everyone to have fun responsibly when wagering on sporting events throughout the season,” said Henry Williams, Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director. “During September, the MGCB wants to raise awareness of responsible gaming particularly among young people and joins the American Gaming Association and its members as they introduce Responsible Gaming Education Month. The MGCB will use its social media channels throughout the month to help raise responsible gaming awareness in Michigan.”
The MGCB’s drive to raise awareness stems from some key statistics. According to National Council on Problem Gambling, between 60-80% of high school students say they gambled for money in the past year.
Additionally, NCPG says 4-6% of high school students are considered addicted to gambling. The research platform EarthWeb reports an estimated 6% of American college students battle against gambling problems.
The NCPG also pointed out concerns related to risk-taking behavior prevalent among adolescents and young adults. They also cited more social acceptance and the glamorization of gambling as factors influencing behaviors.
“While they can’t gamble legally on the internet or at a casino, young people may turn to illegal gambling options not authorized under Michigan law,” Williams said.
Where to find responsible gambling curriculum
While the MGCB is pushing for more education, just what would that education look like?
According to the MGCB, educators can consider several curriculum products through nonprofit organizations. The MGCB is in full support of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to establish a curriculum.
The MGCB also is willing to offer up responsible gaming staff members to speak at parent-teacher organization meetings. They can also provide responsible gaming materials to anyone interested. You can call 888-223-3044 or send a request to [email protected] for more information.
Several nonprofit organizations have programs available to address responsible gaming education for youth.
The programs focus on information, skills, and knowledge to help prevent problem gambling at a young age.
The MDHHS has shared information about the Stacked Deck curriculum with some school districts and interested parties for pilot program implementation.
Stacked Deck’s program is aimed at grades 9-12. However, some lessons are appropriate for grades 7 and 8, as well as some for college students. Those interested can contact Lynn Sutfin at the MDHHS, for details.
Other curriculum options
The Responsible Gaming Council in Ontario also offers youth and young adult programs. They can be adapted and licensed for other jurisdictions.
The North American Training Institute provides a curriculum for grades 3-8 that emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Problem gambling signs parents can look for
While curriculum is not currently available in schools, the MGCB is offering up signs that parents can look for to recognize potential problem gambling in their kids.
- Carrying gambling materials such as dice, cards or poker chips
- Gambling with money that is supposed to be used for school-related purposes
- Skipping class or other school activities to gamble
- Borrowing, stealing and selling items to get money to gamble
The MGCB feels parents play a key role in education and problem gambling prevention. Using parental controls on devices also helps prevent youths from accessing illegal gambling sites.
How operators are aiding in responsible gambling
In Michigan, bettors by law must be age 21 or older to place a wager on authorized internet gaming or internet sports betting sites.
Michigan’s online gaming operators must meet “know your customer” requirements. This is to establish legal age and identity before opening an internet account.
For users of MGCB-authorized internet gaming or sports betting sites, responsible gaming tools allow patrons to manage gambling by using self-imposed limits on:
- Time spent gambling
For those who may gamble legally, self-exclusion options can help. Self-exclusion options are available through the internet site operators or their gaming providers and the MGCB’s Responsible Gaming Section.
“If a family member or a close friend has a gambling problem, it’s important to encourage seeking professional help,” Williams said. “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offers a 24-hour, toll-free helpline to call if you or someone you know has a gambling problem.”
You can reach the MGCB Responsible Gaming Section at 888-223-3044. The MDHHS gambling helpline number is 800-270-7117.