New bill would target underage gambling

A new piece of legislation that targets underage gambling in New York and is backed by Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy, Assemblyman Peter M. Rivera and Jim Maney for New York Council on Problem Gambling, was announced on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

The proposed legislation would take several steps to curb the amount of youth engaging in underage gambling. It would expand the DARE program, which provides anti-drug curriculum in schools throughout the state, and would include gambling addiction; create of an underage enforcement system or mechanism similar to the underage tobacco sales enforcement; dedicate revenue collected from fining establishments that allow underage gambling to support gambling prevention and gambling treatment operations; and create of the Office for the Prevention of Underage Gambling in the New York State Attorney General's Office to enforce laws prohibiting children from gambling.

We have a situation in New York where gambling options are everywhere in sight and easily accessible; where a new mega casino-style operation will shortly be operational at the Aqueduct Race Track and where the federal government is considering legalizing online gambling without any real means of preventing underage gambling, Rivera said in a statement. "Our children are falling victims to the trappings of gambling and the data we have here is clear evidence of the problem we must take responsibility to fix."

Murphy said the Saratoga area is lucky to have taken some steps on its own to prevent underage gambling, given the various outlets readily available to area youth like the race course and Saratoga Gaming and Raceway.

"In Saratoga, we are fortunate that NYRA is ahead of the curve and voluntarily partnered with my office, the New York Council and Problem Gambling, local and state law enforcement and the Prevention Council to implement a pre-meet plan to prevent and deter underage gambling from occurring," said Murphy in a statement. "In addition to reaffirming and revising internal policies and procedures, NYRA's pari-mutuel clerks are briefed each morning about any underage gambling issues or incidents, who to look out for and the importance of checking identification. Additionally, NYRA security personnel are actively patrolling the SAM machines and approaching anyone looking underage to make sure that only adults are accessing those machines."

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