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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Why the age for legal gambling should be lowered to 18

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Bianca Oppedisano
A sketch of patrons entering the Encore casino in Boston, MA. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

While witnessing the war in Ukraine in disbelief right now, one can only imagine that, as in years past, if heaven forbid the war were to escalate at an even worse rate than it is already at, people would be going to war at the age of 18 in the United States and across the world. Not only that, but people would go to battle at the age of 17, including some who would go at their own and their family’s discretion, which is mind boggling to say, and is the age equivalent of some high school juniors and most high school seniors.
Contrary to going out and risking their lives on the battlefield, these same people—barring the fact that some may be 17 and enlisted while still in high school—are able to go to any local convenience store, gas station, supermarket or restaurant and purchase a lottery ticket in most states. Other states, such as Arizona, Louisiana and Iowa, have an increased age for the legal purchase of a ticket at 21, which happens to be the same age to legally gamble and bet on sports in 41 of 50 states.
One of the more bothersome aspects of this is the thought that people who are fresh out of high school at the age of 18 have the ability to fight overseas and have to adapt to home life after serving for multiple years in the military and witnessing the horrors of war in the process, but are prohibited to freely spend their money as they choose in the hopes of obtaining more until they are 21 years old. Of course, this does not only apply to active service members, but rather to all young adults, college students especially. The idea that people are allowed to serve as an active service member in their first year of adulthood, or that college students can pursue an education that would leave them in boatloads of debt for the foreseeable future, but are not allowed to gamble on games that many have played since their childhood—blackjack and solitaire specifically—in order to win money, makes it seem more inane than rational.
It does not just stop at gambling in casino games; the same goes for sports betting, too. In the United States, most states have set the legal age for sports betting at 21, with some exceptions being the age of 18 in four different states, one of which is the Commonwealth’s neighbor, New Hampshire. Massachusetts itself has not legalized sports betting yet, but when the state decides to, the legal age will indeed be 21. As said before, the idea that people are not able to spend their money on gambling as they so freely choose, whether it be in casinos or sports betting apps is, bluntly put, counterproductive. Adults should be able to have free will when it comes to gambling, because if the government believes that 18-year-olds are mature enough to go to war, then they are surely more than mature enough to spend their money on games most are used to playing or sports that many watch on either a daily or consistent basis.
The fact of the matter is, it’s truly backwards that people must wait three years from the day they become an adult to bet on sports in which one could feel confident to receive a payout on, or play casino games that could provide a decent profit. What makes it worse is that these same young adults simultaneously resort to spending dollars for the more than minuscule chance of winning big on a lottery ticket or pay two dollars for a Powerball ticket that inevitably has a near one in 300 million chance of hitting the jackpot. If the gambling industry were to want to bring in more revenue, then it would be a win-win for both people involved in the industry, since they would be opening their doors to young adults who could try their hand at winning money. Young adults would much rather have the freedom to spend their money in cases like this, rather than be alienated from the rest of adults age 21 and over for not being able to dabble in betting on sports they think would bring profits, due to their love for the game, or games they have most likely played at least once in their lives.

About the Contributors
Nick Collins, Sports Editor
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator