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Gambling and Age Requirements: My Take

If you have ever been to a casino or done any other type of gambling, you have probably noticed that there is an age requirement (generally 18, although some places will require 21 due to the serving of alcohol or other rules). This is something I really do not understand, as it is a little contradictory to other rules we live by on a daily basis. Through this article I am going to look at the contradictions and why they make the age limit really has no use.

Driving

In most places, you can drive starting at 16 (we are talking about licenses here, not just permits or anything). This lets you travel all on your own with no supervision at all. In a lot of states (if not all?) you can even get your actual drivers license for motorcycles at 15, which some may argue is even more dangerous than driving a car. But why am I bringing this stuff up?

Well, the argument behind not being able to gamble until 18 is that it ensures you are more “mature” and you are able to make more informed decisions as to what you would like to do and better understand what you are risking in the process. Never mind the fact that psychologists are now stating that we are not fully matured until 27 to 28 years of age, which deems the age limit of 18 a little off on its own, but think about which one is more dangerous. With a car or motorcycle, you are risking your own life and that of everyone else around you. With gambling, you are risking your own finances, which can be earned back over time (especially if you are young). In other words, the more dangerous situation is the one you are able to take part in, and the less dangerous one is the one you are not able to. Makes sense.

Joining the Military

Now we are going to step things up a notch in the risk area. For those who are not aware, you are able to join the US military at the age of 17. It does require your parents to give their permission as well, but this is something you still can not do while gambling (ie. Your parents can not give you permission to enter the casino). In other words, you are able to join a 3 to 4 year commitment where you are risking your life and are (in some cases) taking those of others, yet you, again, are still not old enough to gamble money away yet because you do not have the “maturity” to handle that decision.

The Lack of Hurting People

I do not see why gambling is made illegal in the first place. You are risking something that can be earned back again. If you do make mistakes and gamble away your money due to bad decisions, you should learn a lesson from it and be able to persevere from it. We learn from our mistakes, and holding people back from making any mistakes is a way to make things worse off in the future. Someone who gambles away their money when they are young and learning is a lot less detrimental than when they are older and are relying on their funds to keep them afloat through something like an economical crisis. If I had the choice between a 16 year old losing his $300 or an 85 year old losing his $80k, it would be a pretty obvious one to me! And you will notice that I used a much smaller number for the younger person. This was for a good reason: young people often have less money than older ones since the younger you are, the less time you have had to work and save up.

Conclusion

Our age rules on gambling are, for lack of a better way to explain it, absurd. It really does go to show that in the US we value money more than anything else, being that you are able to risk your own life and take the lives of others on a daily basis even when you are still not old enough to put money out on a table for a bet. Even if we ignore the entire military situation, you are still able to drive. This is operating a piece of very dangerous machinery. Yet you still can not go gamble any money away.

I think that the rules really need to be evaluated again. As the rules are now, they just do not make any sense and they are really giving the wrong messages out. I could see lowering them to 14 or possibly 15 (although at 15 you are able to work and drive a vehicle already, either with a parent or guardian or with a hardship license, and some states even allow you to ride motorcycles down the highway at 15). at least this would turn it in to a situation where it is almost as if you are unlocking a door (such that when you are old enough to drive, you are old enough to gamble). That would make a lot of sense, and I would definitely support that. But as the rules are now, they need to be changed and be brought up with the times.

Gambling


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