In 2008, Maryland legalized slots, and in 2012, they legalized card tables. Alongside these new economic opportunities, revenue comes a human cost in the form of gambling addiction. Because of the dangers of addiction, Maryland state Sen. Bryan Simonaire wants schools to educate people about gambling addiction risks while they are still young, preferably in high school. If passed, it would be the first state legislation of its kind.

Gambling Addiction in Maryland

Gambling addiction is common in areas where it is legal. In Maryland, betting has been permitted for a while, but new forms of gambling have been formalized in recent years. Slots, tables, and card games in casinos are allowed. Keno has been legalized, and in Washington DC, people crowd the only site where you can wager on professional sports. And of course, Bingo, scratch-offs, and other lotteries have normalized betting as well.

The Dangers of  Addiction

For some people prone to addiction, the stakes are too high. People with gamblers with addiction cause chaos in the lives of their loved ones. They risk life and limbs in some cases. They rack up impossible debts, take out loans with collateral that they often default on, and even beg borrow and steal just to get their fix. Instead of doing drugs, however, the drug is the release of dopamine they get from gambling.

Why Educate Minors?

This education would probably be taught alongside other health curriculum and could help teens recognize behaviors that lead to addiction.

Simonaire told Sports Handle. “This is not against gambling, but studies have shown that people roughly between the ages of 18 and 25 to be at the highest risk of the population to become problem gamblers.”

He says gamblers have an addiction that needs prevention just like other addiction prevention education. He has known people whose lives have been destroyed by gambling, he explained. Prevention is more manageable than seeking a cure. “We have a program in place that deals with the dangers of potential addiction with alcohol and drugs, and so with the change in Maryland with gambling laws, I thought it would be a good idea to do the same with the potential of becoming addicted to gambling.”