According to specialists, gambling is a kind of addiction and can be as compelling as drugs. Amusement arcades, with their machines and flashing lights, can mesmerize youngsters and form a compulsion which they are unable to resist. It is the noise when the machine starts paying out, the thrill, which really get teenagers hooked on the game. Soon the game becomes the only thing on their minds : they start palyaing truant from school, they steal from their parents, they lie and do anything to get money for gambling; their sole purpose in life is to return to the ”one-arm bandit” to have another go!
Altghough the law forbids admission to the palces in question to anyone under 16, underage gambling is on the increase. It has now been proved beyond any doubt that playing these machines can create a kind of dependence. This, in turn, causes behavioural problems, such as lack of interest in any other activity, and in school in particular. Not everyone will become a problem gambler but, when a person realizes that he is one, it is already too late.
Every addiction leaves mental scars. Therapy takes a long time and the process of adaption to normal life is gradual. Violence and aggression are typical withdrawal symptoms. Teenagers are not allowed to handle money for several years. They are encouraged to take up new interests, make new friends and get a job. Apart from this, parents of young gamblers are organizing themselves to help young victims kick the habbit and straighten out their lives. But, above all, they are campaigning to have slot machines removed from all venues to which children have access in order to reduce the temptation to play the game. They also should seek penalties for those arcade owners who admit youngsters below the age of 16.