Genetic Factors in Underage Gambling?

Why should people under the legal age for gambling really seriously check their gambling habit? It's not just about them—it's also about their offspring.

A 2006 study sponsored by the National Center for Responsible Gaming, which is a group involved in the casino industry, found that there maybe suggestions that gambling addiction among the young might also be genetic in nature. When relatives of young gamblers are also obsessed with gambling they have more chances of turning into neurotic gamblers soon.

On the other hand, young gamblers with non-gambling relatives found rehabilitation easier. Another thing they found was that 8 to 12 percent of addicted gamblers had gambling relatives before them and only 2 to 3.5 percent of those who didn't gamble had relatives who gambled a lot. There were also more alcoholics and drug addicts among the relatives of hardened gamblers.

Experts say the earlier the symptoms on compulsive gambling are arrested the better. It is hard to treat the malady when the addict has grown old with the vice for years. And this is likely to pass on to their offspring genetically. It's like cancer; the earlier it is treated the greater the chances for survival. If it stays untreated it will affect other body parts.

The legal age for gambling should take into account the maturity level of the young person. When they have reached an age wherein young people can control their impulses and have mature outlook of things then that is the age when they may be permitted to try gambling as an entertainment. Some may think of doing this through government controlled tests and exams similar to how they issue driving licenses from the legal age and up.

But some people feel this is strictly family affair. Parents should be responsible in seeing to it that their young are mature enough emotionally and mentally before they are allowed to try out any form of gaming. Some concerned neuro-psychiatrists are beginning to air warnings that just as alcoholism is noted to start early in teenage, so does gambling.

These experts add that most young gamblers have fathers who gambled or are gambling abnormally. When such is the case the tendency is that these people also have weak defenses against other addicting disorders like indulgence in smoking, drinking, and drugs.

However, these experts are careful to hastily add that these studies are not suggestive of the existence of a gambling gene. There's no clinical evidence to state in unequivocal terms that gambling indeed is genetic.