Parents worried sports betting could impact young people

Jamiese Price Image
Thursday, June 1, 2023
Sports betting NC | Vote expected on sports betting bill in NC Senate
Sports betting NC | Vote expected on sports betting bill in NC Senate

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A push to expand sports betting in North Carolina passed a second vote Thursday in the state Senate and is now back in the house for concurrence.

WATCH: NC Senate passes sports betting bill

If the House does not make any changes and votes yes, the bill will head to Governor Cooper's desk.

Opponents of the bill are concerned it could lead to gambling problems and addiction among young people. Those concerns only heightened for parents like Clifford Zinner.

His son Joshua died on his journey to beat gambling addiction. "Gambling was his true addiction. He acknowledged that. He was truly, a gambling addict," said Zinner.

ABC11 sat down with the Zinner's who shared their son started gambling in high school.

"I don't really think I knew that he gambled. It was a peripheral thing. I never imagined that it was an active thing, all through college," he continued.

SEE ALSO: 7v7 soccer tournament brings big sporting, economic footprint to Cary

Zinner said his son gambled on sports only. It also led to alcohol abuse, and eventually a fentanyl overdose in March.

"He fought the gambling the most. And the other stuff was to try to deal with that, looking for excitement, energy or interest, or coping. I never knew that gambling was even really a piece of any kind of addiction."

According to a division with theDepartment of Health and Human Services, 10% of youth are experiencing a problem with gambling and another 15 to 20% are at risk of developing a problem.

A recent NCAA survey found nearly 60% of 18- to 22-year-olds surveyed have placed at least one sports bet.

The numbers are why Zinner and his family are against the state legislature's push to expand sports betting. House Bill 347 would allow bets on college, professional and other sports from your phone or other electronic devices.

"There will definitely be an increase in gambling-related illnesses amongst young people as we make it easier for them to gamble," Zinner continued.

Under this legislation, a portion of the tax revenue generated through sports betting will go towards state gambling treatment and prevention services.

Amanda Winters the Program Administrator for North Carolina's Problem Gambling Program said there's been an 84% increase in services during the past fiscal year.

When it comes to young people she explained that even though it's not legal for youth to gamble, young people experience problems gambling at a higher rate than adults.

"We the gambling look more like games and games begin to represent or look more like gambling. And so oftentimes, we treat both," said Winters.

She explained why young people are more prone to addiction. "Undeveloped brains, first of all. Youth are more prone to develop an addiction and they are not aware of the long term ramifications or that they are actually engaging in gambling games," explained Winters.

Meanwhile, the Zinners are hoping other families in North Carolina won't experience similar pain.

"It's a horrible journey for any family. So that's, that's a downside to this."

All services and treatments through NC Problem Gambling Program are free. The department works with high schools and colleges to produce curriculum, implement screenings, provide treatment and bring awareness. You can also call the North Carolina Problem Gambling Helpline: 877-718-5543