How Washington Opened the Floodgates to Online Poker, Dealing Parents a Bad Hand
J Thoendell stashed this in Science
“Online and mobile gambling is going to be a big thing, and those aged 18 to 25 have the highest prevalence of gambling-related problems among adults,” says Derevensky, who has treated dozens of kids at McGill’s International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors.
One of the hardest parts of the job, Derevensky says, is “getting parents and teachers to realize the dangers of gambling are often no less severe and sometimes much greater than drinking, reckless driving, drugs and unprotected sex.” Once hooked, kids can take years to recover—or never recover—with the most severe cases only able to substitute one high-risk behavior for another. Some kids even commit suicide. “Once they’re addicted, these kids will take their parents’ credit cards, gas cards, anything they can find to gamble with,” he says. “I had one kid, being raised by a single mother, who stole two of her credit cards and lost $20,000 on PokerStars in one month.”
Released last year, the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’sDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly referred to as the DSM, sets up criteria for research into “Internet Gaming Disorder.” The association said that studies of young Asian males indicated “that when these individuals are engrossed in Internet games, certain pathways to their brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict’s brain is affected by a particular substance.”
Marc Potenza, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University specializing in the neurobiology of gambling, impulse control and addictive disorders, has noticed the same link. “We are only beginning to understand this condition and the potential for treatments, using brain imaging to investigate the neurocircuitry that underlies human decision making and similarities between substance abuse and gambling disorders,” he tells Newsweek.
He worked with two research groups for the DSM-5, which now recognizes gambling disorder as a behavioral addiction. One revelation thus far: While U.S. law makes a clear distinction between online gaming for real money and virtual money (with the former being more heavily regulated), the human brain may not make the same distinction when it comes to getting addicted. “This is something we are actively investigating,” Potenza says.