Raise NY gambling age to 21: Addabbo

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State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said he supports raising the legal age to gamble to 21 from 18, saying the move would limit the number of youngsters with gambling addictions.

“I believe the time is right to address the issues of gambling through raising awareness and legislation,” Addabbo said in a statement Monday.

The senator said a study titled “Raising the Gambling Age to 21 in New York State” and published by the Council on Alcoholism and Addictions in the Finger Lakes region of the state found the earlier in life a person starts gambling, the more likely he or she is to experience symptoms that correlate with pathological gambling.

Addabbo, who represents the area around Aqueduct Race Track and the new Resorts World Casino New York racino, is the chairman of the Senate Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee.

He said with Gov. Andrew Cuomo in favor of changing the law to create Las Vegas- and Atlantic City-style casinos in the state, it is appropriate to consider raising the legal gambling age.

“Our economy hinges on winning the future,” Addabbo said. “For America to own this century, we must provide our younger residents with the conditions to excel academically and professionally in order to create the next Google or to invent the next critical piece of technology that revolutionizes the way people live.

“To do this, young people must have the opportunity to study in advanced fields of science and mathematics. With college costs continuing to grow, it is vital to provide a firm financial foundation for scholars to become the next entreprene­urs.”

Addabbo also said research has shown that gambling at a young age is a trigger for alcohol abuse, drug use and criminal behavior later in life, and that youngsters are more inclined to gamble than older people in games such as cards, dice and pool.

He said Youth Gambling International found young adults from 18 to 21 are three times more likely to have problems associated with gambling.

Addabbo noted that approving full gambling in the state will take a few years and that changing the legal gambling age should be done before then.

“Our state’s constitution must be amended over two consecutive legislative sessions and then a deciding vote, via the people’s vote on a referendum ballot, must also provide public assent before full casino gaming can operate in the state,” he said. “Since we have a few years before that is likely to happen, it gives us enough time to be more responsible by raising awareness to avoid youthful gambling addictions.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 1:35 am, January 26, 2012
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Reader feedback

nyc11 from flushing says:
If we can vote, pay taxes and go to war at 18 we should be able to di everything else. Studies will also show that increasing the gambling age to 23 or 25 will also reduce gambling addictions so what's stopping us from doing that?
Feb. 1, 2012, 12:33 am

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