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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Online Gambling

Several years ago, there was an explosion of Internet-based gambling sites – and an explosion of problem online gambling amongst kids. Recently, however, the U.S. Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, barring online casinos from doing business in America and financial institutions from processing their transactions. Afterwards, many of the Internet's most prominent casinos either barred U.S. customers or shut down completely. Problem solved? Well, partly, but not completely. Some Internet casinos are still running. Some kids are finding technical workarounds to evade the rules and gamble online. And some lobbyists are hard at work trying to get the law either repealed or modified.

Bottom line: you still need to pay attention to this issue. That's especially true because online gaming is the "crack cocaine" of the gambling industry. Kids can do it alone for hours at a time, getting the pure chemical "rush" that gambling delivers, with none of the interruptions that might occur offline. And, as many kids have discovered to their regret, gambling's a great way to lose a fortune fast. Here's what you can do to keep online gambling from becoming a problem in your home:

  • Remind your kids that Internet gambling by people under 18 is illegal, period. It's illegal in all 50 states. It was illegal even before that 2006 law was passed.
  • Explain how online gambling casinos – all casinos, of course – are designed to make sure the casino always eventually wins, and the player always eventually loses. (Believe it or not, not all kids realize that. We know a few adults who don't!)
  • Make sure your kids know that if they go deeply in debt, they can hurt their own ability to borrow money to buy a car or go to college someday. They can even damage your credit rating.
  • Keep an eye on your credit card bills. Kids generally need to use a credit card to gamble online, and if they don't have one, they may try to "borrow" yours.
  • Finally, consider using Internet filtering software to prevent access to online gambling sites.

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