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    Can I gamble? What if I win the lottery?

    Date: 09.07.07 | by Judge Tom.

    “You wanna bet?”

    “Put your money where your mouth is.”

    “I′ll bet you 5 bucks I′m right.”

    Everyone has said something like this at one time or another. Most of the time, you′re kidding. However, if you′re serious and you expect to collect on a bet or pay it off if you lose, you may have broken the law as the gambling age in most places is 18 or older.

    In most states, minors may not bet, gamble, or be in a bar or saloon where gambling occurs. This includes betting at a horse or dog track, buying a lottery ticket, or any type of gambling (with dice, cards, or other games of chance). These rules generally apply, even in some states with legalized gambling. The exchange of money or property is considered unlawful when it comes to minors.

    • In 2003, 1,700 males and females under 18 were arrested for gambling; 98% were male, and 15% were young people under the age of 16.

    Source: Juvenile Offenders and Victims: A National Report, National Center for Juvenile Justice (2006)

    Although you must be an adult to gamble, you can receive lottery tickets as a gift. If you win, you may be allowed to keep part of the prize, depending on the amount. States vary on this—some give you a percent of the total amount, while others require that the money be paid to your parents or guardians.

    In 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that bans online gambling that would be illegal in the state where the transaction takes place.

    Some of the symptoms of becoming a compulsive gambler to watch for include:

    • a growing preoccupation with gambling
    • gambling greater amounts over a longer period
    • increased restlessness when not gambling
    • gambling more to win back your losses
    • missing school or work to gamble
    • growing debt

    If you or a friend have developed a habit of gambling and the situation is getting out of hand, contact Gamblers Anonymous. Check your local phone book for a listing. Some groups have programs for teens.


    Gamblers Anonymous
    International Service Office
    P. O. Box 17173
    Los Angeles, CA 90017
    (213) 386-8789

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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