Online Gambling

FoolProof Approach to Gambling: First Hysteria, Then Facts


With National Problem Gambling Week fast approaching (so soon?), the FoolProof Initiative, a finacial literacy project backed by the credit union industry, urges parents to look for "danger signs" that their kids are hooked on betting. According to a press release I received today, these red flags include questionable symptoms such as "a dramatic change in routine," "frequent use of gambling terminology," and possessing "an unusual supply" of cards and poker chips as well as more clearly relevant indicators such as "constantly visiting online gambling sites" and "frequently borrowing money, selling belongings, or financing gambling with credit card debt." To its credit, FoolProof's educational program seems to emphasize moderation rather than abstinence. "Without preaching," FoolProof says, "it teaches young people how to make wise decisions when it comes to gambling, and how to recognize problems in themselves and others." Yet FoolProof promotes that curriculum with absurdly alarmist claims:


Gambling has…become a huge problem for kids as young as nine years old….

About 60% of high school students know a young person who gambles a lot.

22% of high school students admit they gamble "sometimes."

Up to 19% of 14-17 year-olds already show signs of problem gambling.

By 18, the vast majority of young people have gambled at least once.

FoolProof cites "sources for our statistics" at the bottom, but there is nothing to substantiate the headline's claim of a sharp upward trend in gambling problems among "young people." I'll suspend my disbelief regarding the second claim, since a single 9-year-old who squanders his allowance on lottery tickets would be enough to make it true. The third and fourth claims are based on "FoolProof's continual survey of high school students working through our Gambling module in Oklahoma." That sample may or may not be representative, but let's assume it is. If there is a "difference between social gambling and pathological gambling," as the "High School Gambling Fact Sheet" cited by FoolProof concedes, why should we be alarmed if one in five high school students occasionally bets on something (or if "the vast majority of young people have gambled at least once" by the time they are 18)?

As for the "young person who gambles a lot" that 60 percent of respondents said they know, playing poker once a week might be enough to qualify for that description. Even if gambling "a lot" is the same thing as "problem gambling," there is no way to figure out a prevalence rate based on this number. In theory, all of the respondents could be thinking of the same kid—maybe that 9-year-old lottery junkie. Then again, if it's really true that nearly one-fifth of teenagers ("up to 19%") "show signs of problem gambling," that suggests almost all occasional bettors ("22% of high school students") are in fact pathological gamblers or soon will be. That seems inconsistent with the fact sheet's statement that "the vast majority of players will gamble only on occasion and just for fun." More generally, FoolProof's anti-gambling hysteria clashes with its avowed commitment to realistic, nonpreachy, and genuinely informative education.

NEXT: Selling Green Cards is the American Thing To Do

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107 responses to “FoolProof Approach to Gambling: First Hysteria, Then Facts

  1. So Curly Sue was a cautionary tale?

  2. officer, am I free to gambol gamble across the fruited plain?

    1. Republicans: NO!
      Democrats: NO!

    2. NO says the man in Washington!

      NO says the man in the Vatican!

      NO say the man in Moscow!

  3. If you have to go to a website to know if your child has a gambling problem, you’re fired as a parent.


  5. “possessing ‘an unusual supply’ of cards and poker chips”

    If you’ve got a lot of poker chips, I wouldn’t say that gambling is really a problem for you.

  6. First they came for my potato chips, then they came for my poker chips…

    1. First they came for my potato chips,
      …and I said nothing because I was a Dorito.

  7. Strangers call on the phone with increasing frequency.

    “Call on the phone.” How quaint.

  8. Let’s make gambling illegal, that’ll stop kids from congregating in a garage or basement and playing poker. Oh government, is there any human problem you can’t solve through fiat?

    1. To some, the solution is always a hammer, even when the problem doesn’t look like a nail.

      1. If you hammer on it hard enough and long enough, it will admit it really is a nail. Problem solved.

  9. Does strip poker count?

    1. Gambling has…become a huge problem for kids as young as nine years old….

      I’ll bet you can’t eat a worm!

      1. Oh, yeah? I’ll bet you that threaded comments suck!

      2. Nine-years-old was the age of my daughter was when I first taught her how to play blackjack.

    2. 9 year olds play strip poker?

      1. Yeah man, pics or it didn’t happen.


        1. Why don’t you have a seat over there?

      2. Probably not but since the article covered everything from 9 year olds to high school kids that is irrelevant. The respondents above you gave the 9-year old equivalent.

      3. Combining “doctor” and a card game? I don’t see why not.

  10. The NFL wouldn’t be as popular if there was no gambling

  11. What about Horse Racing?

    1. How ’bout the Lotto?

      1. ‘Idiot Tax’

        1. I read articles about groups of people who figured out a trick on how to play the lottery and make money regularly. They were up in the North East somewhere… maybe New York. Most of these guys were really good at numbers. They’d buy a lot of cards and still make money at the end.

          1. Massachusetts. People has figured out that when the lottery got to a guaranteed payout, the odds drastically changed in favor of players. Still, it seems like they raised $200k to win $5M which a good, but not great payoff. I mean, return in 3 months is great, but not like retirement money.

  12. Gambling has…become a huge problem for kids as young as nine years old….

    Where the fuck does a 9-year-old get enough money to gamble?

  13. I played a few poker games in high school. The biggest pot was 5 bucks. I think on the whole I came out $2 ahead.

    Yup, I was a wild child.

    1. The poker I played as a yute didn’t involve chips or money at all.

      We trafficked in a more valuable commodity: clothing.

  14. Gambling has…become a huge problem for kids as young as nine years old….

    Where the fuck does a 9-year-old get enough money to gamble?

    1. Internet boyfriends

    2. Where the fuck does a 9-year-old get enough money to gamble?

      Whoa, whoa, whoa, I thought we were in FAVOR of child labor ’round these parts? Don’t go blaming the kid just because they’re intrepid enough to look for gainful employment

  15. I once played a slot machine. I lost $30, felt incredibly stupid, and decided not to do that again.

    1. Yeah, I’ve never really seen the appeal of gambling. Horse-racing to be social-able and poker with friends, but hanging out in a casino bores me utterly.

      1. Now, if this had been in one of those casinos where topless chicks bring you free booze while you lose money, I might have seen the point.

        1. I’d much rather play non-gambling-based card games. I’m a deadly opponent in bridge and bridge-esque games, like spades or hearts.

          1. I’m a war man, myself.

          2. Rook, anyone?

          3. I will destroy you in pinochle.

            1. I used to kick ass at euchre. I wonder if I even remember how to play anymore.

      2. Leela: I’m having a poker game tonight with some of my old cryogenics lab coworkers. Would any of you like to join?

        Bender: I don’t know. I only gamble with chumps.

        Fry: I’ll play.

        Bender: I’m in!

  16. It seems being a kid is now a dangerous danger to ones-self, and a person must beign completely micromanaged by parents and the nanny state until they are of voting age.

    These assholes probably consider baseball-card flipping to be gateway-gambling.

    1. We’ll go after those little snot-nosed shits unless they comply with this:…..95,00.html

    2. I remember playing marbles “for keeps” age 6 – and mostly losing. Does that count?

  17. Hey, if your 9 year old moppet is frequently borrowing money, selling belongings, or financing anything with credit card debt, I think you’ve got a bigger problem than gambling.

    About 60% of high school students know a young person who gambles a lot.

    1. About 60% of high school students know a young person who gambles a lot.

      Do 18-year olds qualify as “young [people]”, and, if so, what portion of the 60% figure only know a legal adult who gambles “a lot”?

      1. Oh, that point of contention was addressed in the article. That’s what I get for jumping straight to the comments after a quick glance…

      2. When calculating gun deaths, anything under the age of 24 is a ‘child’.

        1. I drive by a running tally of “child” gun deaths every day when I go into Boston. Good to know the statistic is even more bullshit than I’d previous suspected.

        2. Paul|3.1.12 @ 2:20PM|#
          “When calculating gun deaths, anything under the age of 24 is a ‘child’.”
          And if it’s anything like ‘smoking-related deaths’, it means if there was a gun withing 50 feet of a fatal auto accident, it’s ‘gun-related’.

      3. NOT 60% of young people gamble a lot.

        60% of young people KNOW someone who gambles a lot.

        I’d be willing to bet 60% of young people know a one eyed heroin addict. What does that have to do with kids having a gambling problem?

    2. Hey, if your 9 year old moppet is frequently borrowing money, selling belongings, or financing anything with credit card debt, I think you’ve got a bigger problem than gambling.

      Sounds like your kid has a stimulus problem.


    Fuck these clowns. It’s like they get sexually aroused by making alarmist claims. About children. Hmm…

    1. I have an alarming statistic: 100% of young, hot teenage chicks have not texted me naked pics of themselves yet.

      1. That’s because you look like a miniature Andre the Giant, though, Jimbo.

      2. You need to change your nick to “Senator Gojira” or “Representative Gojira” or anything with “Kennedy”.

        1. Then Jimbo would be compelled to text naked pictures of himself to hot, young teenage chicks. On twitter. Because the internet is private.

  19. “With National Problem Gambling Week fast approaching (so soon?)”

    I say each year the week should be chosen via a lottery system, so people can place bets on the outcome.

    1. “With National Problem Gambling Week fast approaching (so soon?)”

      I was in a mall on Feb 14th and they had already taken down the hearts and roses and put up the dice and racing forums. Every year it happens earlier. To hell with these people and their Hallmark holidays, I say!

  20. Some of it’s based on the same playbook anti-alcohol groups use with the underage drinking “epidemic”.

    All use is abuse for people under 21. A 20 year old who drinks a beer on occasion will be considered to be a habitual abuser of alcohol.

    A 9 year old who ponies up a buck or two every now and then to play the lottery with a relative is a “problem gambler” not because of how often they gamble or whether then engage in illicit/criminal behavior to further their gambling, but merely because they’re under 21.

    Any/all gambling by someone under 21 is considered to be problem gambling. What would be considered occasional, harmless gambling by someone over 21 is considered to habitual and problematic when done by someone under 21.

    1. The anti gun people do the same. They use statistics for all those under 21 who die by gun and claim it shows how many “children” die from gunfire.

      1. I won by ten minutes.

        1. Yes you did. Missed that. And it is 24 not 21? wow.

          1. It’s indexed to how long you can stay on your parent’s insurance.

            1. Another tangential benefit of ObamaCare: making the scare-stats look more dire, thus prompting a call for further intervention.

              Wait, did I say benefit?

          2. Does that include fast and furious deaths in Mexico?

  21. I learned some important lessons playing video blackjack on the Atari 2600 back when I was 15. Number one was that the house always wins.

    1. If you bought an Atari 2600, the house won before you started.

      I keed! I keed!

    2. And if for some reason you think you win and cash in your chips… big burly guys armed with clubs and brass knuckles will meet you in the parking lot.

      1. Bullshit. The IRS meets you at the cage and ensures you haven’t enough for the burly men to bother with.

        1. Hey! That big, burly guy *IS* the IRS.

    1. You gamble with your money, you gamble with your life!

  22. Fucking Cleveland and their hysterics.

    Apparently, posting a picture of yourself on Facebook and a few rants without making a specific threat is now grounds to charge a teen with, with…Hell, I don’t even know how to put it into words, so I’ll let the story.

    FTA: “He will now face two counts of inducing panic, one count each of aggravated menacing and telecommunications harassment. All of the charges are first-degree misdemeanors.”

    No word on who he actually menaced or harassed.

    1. That is a total first amendment violation. the charges will never stand. But that wasn’t the point. They arrested him. They will let him rot in jail for a few weeks or months. Laws, we don’t need no stinking laws.

      1. See something; say something!

      2. There are certain shitheads out there that would have us complain only to legislators about this. As if the people who went and arrested this youth and imprisoned him for exercising his 1A Rights are excused. Fuck that shit. The animals who put cuffs on this boy are just as guilty in my book.

        1. They ought to be charged with false arrest.

    2. Inducing panic and aggravated menacing?!?!?! Words literally fail me. I’m so stunned I can’t even be outraged, because I don’t quite believe it yet.

      1. stop being stunned/outraged/anyreaction, you’re just getting more charges piled on him!

  23. The Axis of Glib is at it again. Not a coherent thought nor significant paragraph between the three of them, and barely on topic. These same clowns complain about the board being taken over by griefer trolls. Methinks they don’t want company on the monkey bars.

    1. Poor Rather.

    2. For some reason, the poster’s name looked like MingeGyver the first time I looked at it.

      1. we loves it

      2. we likes it


    Terribly biased article on tapping the police. But the police tears in it are just yummy. And the comments are uniformly against the cops.

  25. How long before someone does something about that damned ETrade baby encouraging toddlers to gamble on the stock market?

    1. Whoa there, John, my 15 mo. old grandson was up 17% in 2011 with the S&P level.

      1. Your grandson has a problem. You know that don’t you Romulus?

  26. I guess if there is a FoolProof Initiative I should start the Foundation for the AirTightAlibi.

    I know what I want from life.

  27. Tell you what. I’m going to go ahead and not worry about this.

  28. I had some friends who would go to Vegas every year for 4-5 days and played poker well enough to come out about even on the cost of their trip. One had a daughter of about 10-12 who was at least as good as her father, and routinely ended up in the black playing with us on nickel poker night. If she got into online poker, her only problem would be hiding the money from her folks.

    1. I want to say that both Jennifer Harmon and Annie Duke got their starts from beating their fathers’ drinking/poker buddies in home games. IIRC, they were around the age of the daughter you cite, Brett.

  29. Only 60% of high schoolers know who Pete Rose is? Jesus, I must be getting hold.

    1. The sad thing about Pete is that he betted ON his team. I see nothing wrong with that, and I don’t know why they were all fussy about it. If he betted against his team, yes the league should oust him and keep him out of the HOF. But the guy had a great record, and he betted on his team.

      1. OK, how about if he had a bet on his team tomorrow night for $10K but didn’t have a bet on tonight’s game. Would you question why he held his closer out to give him a little extra rest in a 2-run game?

        Fuck Pete Rose in the asshole. The man ruined baseball for me as I grew up driving past Jonathan’s Cafe in Franklin, Ohio* every morning on my way to school only to see his Lambo with “4192” on the plates parked outside.

        When he voluntarily accepted the lifetime ban, I put away my glove and didn’t pick it up for almost 20 years.

        *A known bookie in the area as well as a backroom gambling hall.

  30. Gambling is only a problem when you lose.

  31. DSM-IV-TR criteria for pathological gambling (need to endorse at least 5 of the 10 criteria in relation to persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behavior.Gambling behavior can not be better accounted for by a manic episode:
    1.Preoccupation with gambling

    2.Gambling with increasing amounts of money to achieve same feeling of excitement

    3.Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling

    4.Restless/irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling

    5.Gambles as way to escape from personal problems or relieving a dysphoric mood

    6.Chases one’s losses

    7.Lies to important people about extent of gambling

    8.Committed illegal acts to finance gambling

    9.Jeopardized or lost significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity b/c of gambling

    10.Relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling

    1. Chases one’s losses

      Huh? Do you need to be a gambler just to understand the criteria?

      1. and #10 sounds more like the criteria for a diagnosis as a Douchbag. or a case of Presidentia Americanicus.

      2. It’s short hand for: after losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses)

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