Monday, March 3, 2008

A Gambling Epidemic

There is growing concern that adolescents and young adults represent the highest risk group for gambling problems. If you perform a Google search, the results will bring up hundreds of articles like this and this with studies supporting that fact.

This is a very serious problem and I am not trying to make light of it, but I really do believe that I have found the root of the problem:

I never really made the connection before, but we took the boys to the Incredible Pizza Company to try to escape the winter doldrums and attempt to spend our entire paycheck in less than one hour. In three minutes, my sons blew about $15 on the above two games. Card swipe. Spin. Rats. Card swipe. Spin. Rats. I didn’t even try to explain the odds of winning the big jackpot of 250 tickets. And winning a big jackpot of 50 tickets didn’t quench the desire. It only fueled it. Sound familiar? It did to me, as I have played my share of slot machines. The reward for spending $15 in these games was a handful of tickets cashed in for dime store toys worth about a nickel.

As I followed my kids' frantic buzzing from one game to the next, I watched other kids clutching their tickets and moving from one game to the next with parents following closely behind. I marveled at the similarities of the pizza-arcade establishment and the adult version of these establishments, aka the casino:

1. Kids do not give up their favorite, high-ticket paying machines. The only things they are missing are the buckets to carry their tickets in.

2. Casinos have:

Pizza-arcades have:

3. Casinos have free drinks as long as you continue to play to ensure you remain loose and continue to play. Pizza-arcades have free cookies and ice cream to keep your kids on a sugar high to ensure they continue to play.

4. There are no clocks to be found.

5. There are no windows to be found.

6. The only light is provided by the flashing, fluorescence of the overhead lights and games.

7. There is loud music, yelling, screaming, crying, buzzing, chinging, whizzing, whirling, and no place to go for silence. Not even the restrooms are quiet.

8. Casinos have workers pushing around a change cart. Pizza-arcades have workers pushing around trash carts.

9. A couple of hours are all you can handle, and you leave with a ginormous headache swearing that you won't be back for at least a year.

Given these similarities, is it any wonder that our youth are growing up with the urge to gamble? We might as well sign them up for casino cards in the hospital at birth like we do with birth certificates and social security cards. "And, here is your social security form, birth certificate form, and casino registration form. Which portrait package would you like?"

So if you really despise these types of places, remember our youth and the gambling epidemic and you have the perfect excuse not to patronize the dreaded pizza-arcade establishment.


Biddy said...

oh are so right! this is one reason i've never been to vegas...if I can spend $50 at mr. gattis in less than 10 minutes, there's no telling what would happen to me in vegas!

and i LOVED your comment about Bossy' dog hahaha

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

I wish I would have read this BEFORE our Chuck E Cheese expedition today in which I watched my kids mindlessly insert token after token into spinning whirling ticket lottery machines instead of the actual games they could have played.


Kellan said...

Yep, these places know exactly what they are doing to lure these kids to all these games - all those grown-up tricks! My kids definitely love all those games.

Have a good evening - see you soon. Kellan

katydidnot said...

thank you a million times for a reasonable excuse to avoid them. i'm in your debt.

MP said...

You are 100% correct. I grew up on Happy Joe's Pizza..and now..I like a slot machine now and then. I wasn't good when I was a kid and I'm not good now.
My step son..LOVES pull tabs at church picnic's..Can we blame this on religion?

Karla and Ben said...

i would have played the sponge bob one

Loth said...

Absolutely spot on. We don't really have those Chuck E Cheese sort of places over here in Scottish Land but we do have amusement arcades full of those sort of games. I have not taken our kids into one since the days when they were young enough to enjoy just pushing the buttons while the machines did their demo display, believing that they were in fact playing it. Now they are old enough to know you HAVE TO PUT MONEY IN, I am never going back. And I am going to give them your e-mail address so you can explain why. That's okay, isn't it??

MP said...;_ylt=ArvkxyS4Ajt0SCwYLyOpedouQE4F

I thought of you when I read this article this morning...

Kathy said...

Wow, I never looked at it like this! It's funny the way you write it, but it's also sadly true!

Unknown said...

I love having a reason not to go to those types of places!! I hate them!!


Damama T said...

Wow! I had never giving that any thought, but you are absolutely right! Now you have me wondering if the casinos and the arcades aren't owned by the same corporate entities. That'd be an interesting research project. Again, Wow. Good catch!

Texasholly said...

My husband and I had this conversation last time we were at such an establishment! Totally agree, but yet we tomorrow's gamblers.