Internet gambling addiction growing

Oct. 20, 2010 at 12:41 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Addiction to Internet gambling is a growing problem in Florida, particularly among college students, a report says.

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling report says Florida college kids are twice as likely as the general population to be compulsive gamblers, and the biggest problem is young men playing poker online, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday.

"A whole new generation of kids thinks that what they want to do when they finish school is be a professional poker player," says Jeffrey L. Derevensky of McGill University, who analyzed data gathered from seven Florida colleges and universities.

About a third of the calls to gambling addiction help line 888-LAST-BET are from college students or parents of students who have gotten in too deep and are heavily in debt.

One caller, who declined to give his name, said he dropped out of college and ended up stealing money from friends and family to play poker online.

"I had a great college life, but then poker became all I wanted to do," he says. "It consumed my life."

Another recovering compulsive gambler from South Florida, Steve, says Internet poker with its 24-hour access was his downfall.

"It became so I could play whatever poker I wanted, whenever I wanted," he says.

Steve says he ended up losing more than $100,000 before seeking help.

"The thing about gambling addiction is you only go get help when you're deep in debt," he says. "Nobody has a gambling problem if they're winning."

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