Are 18-Year-Olds Mature Enough to Gamble Online?
By Space Coast Daily // March 19, 2020
With the continuing advancement of technology, it’s easier than ever to access whatever you want from the comfort and privacy of your own home.
Gambling is no exception, as researchers estimate that over 1.2 million Americans gamble online every year. That number is increasing over time, leaving many wondering about the implications on young adults.
In most states, 18 is the legal age to participate in several forms of gambling, including:
• Playing the lottery
• Playing Bingo
• Online gambling
Most states do restrict gambling in casinos to people age 21 and older. However, an individual as young as 18 years old has a wide variety of legal options available when it comes to placing bets, making wagers and paying to play for cash prizes.
Is gambling a safe practice for adults at such a young age? Do they have the maturity required to properly weigh their options when it comes to taking a chance with their finances?
An appreciation of the development of the brain and how it is impacted by gambling can help those questioning this issue reach the proper conclusion.
Understanding the Development of Decision-Making Skills
Maturity is a multifaceted and complicated concept. This ability involves a host of different aspects, including physical, intellectual, psychological, emotional and social growth.
It is quite possible and relatively common for a person to be mature in one major area while underdeveloped in another. Research shows that adults continue to mature well into adulthood, with most people achieving full development closer to 25 years of age.
In general, experts agree that 18-year-olds have the experience and education to make relatively well-informed decisions.
However, they may lack the reasoning or ability to fully understand potential consequences when taking risks. This is largely due to the fact the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for planning and impulse control, has not fully developed.
Is it possible that some 18-year-olds have matured enough to gamble responsibly? The answer is yes, although each individual is different. Personal backgrounds, family history, education and life experiences can each play a part in a person’s overall maturity level.
The Effects of Gambling on the Brain
Gambling triggers responses from the brain’s reward system. When an action produces a positive reward, endorphins are released throughout the body to affirm the behavior with good feelings.
A win results in a temporary “high” and, consequently, a desire to continue the behavior. As a result, gambling can be incredibly addictive for certain individuals, especially younger adults whose brains haven’t reached full maturity.
Safe Gambling Practices
Individuals with a predisposition to addiction should avoid gambling altogether. Those who understand the potential risks may be able to safely participate in this recreational activity.
However, it is important that every adult adopts safe gambling practices from the very start. Are you 18 years old and considering online gambling? Before you begin, make sure that you’ve taken these steps to set yourself up for a healthier approach.
Know the Law
The age limits and restrictions for gambling vary from state to state and country to country. Research the laws of your current residence or location before you participate in any type of gambling activity. A quick online search can help you find the information you need to gamble legally.
Familiarize Yourself With the Warning Signs of Addiction
Take the time to read about the addictive properties of gambling and which warning signs to look out for.
If you start exhibiting concerning behaviors, including mood swings, uncontrollable urges and hiding your activity, it may be a sign that you need to seek help. Many websites and organizations offer tools to help diagnose, treat and recover from gambling addiction.
Keep it Recreational
Never gamble for income or to raise needed funds. Only place bets or wagers for fun and when your budget allows for it. Gambling to help pay debts or meet everyday needs is likely to worsen the problem rather than improve it.
Set a Realistic Budget
Because gambling online or in-person should be considered a form of entertainment, treat it in your budget as such. Take an honest look at your finances and only set aside what you can truly afford to wager. Stick with your budget and commit to never spend more than what you have allotted for this activity.
Establish an Accountability Partner
Gambling should not be kept secret from close friends and family members. Instead, find a confidant who you can trust to hold you accountable. By having someone to answer to, you may be more likely to exhibit impulse control.
While it is legal for 18-year-olds to gamble online in most states, individuals should use discretion before participating in this enjoyable yet addictive practice.
Maturity varies from person to person, so certain individuals may benefit from waiting a few years before giving gambling a try. A person should be able to weigh the risks, responsibly manage finances and exhibit self- control in order to enjoy gambling safely.
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