July 26, 2010
By Mark Mulholland
WNYT News Channel 13

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Hundreds of thousands will experience the highs and lows of betting on horse racing in the coming weeks. People of all ages will pass through the turnstiles at Saratoga Race Course. But problem gambling groups say leave the betting to the adults because adolescent brains aren’t capable of processing the potential consequences.

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“Our kids aren’t equipped to handle the wins and losses yet. We know that. We know that they’re not going to be ready until about 24,” says Jim Maney, executive director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling.

According to a recent state survey, 48 percent of students in grades seven through twelve had gambled within the past year. That number was a little higher in SaratogaCounty.

So problem gambling experts are teaming with law enforcement and the New York Racing Association to prevent kids from gambling. Security will keep a watchful eye on automated betting machines and NYRA will remind parimutuel clerks every day to ask for ID.

“It’s something that’s very important and if someone wants their job, they’ve got to do what they’re asked,” says Charles Wheeler, NYRA’s Facilities Manager at Saratoga.

Teens can be charged with trespass for trying to place a bet. Parents, who sometimes send their kids to the betting window, can be arrested for endangering their welfare.

“It’s a crime to send a kid in to make a bet,” says Jim Murphy, Saratoga County District Attorney. “The message is, if you’re going to make a bet and you’re a parent, do it yourself.”