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New bill would target underage gambling

Murphy said that Saratoga Gaming and Raceway works closely with his office to ensure underage youth aren't slipping onto the floor, citing an "excellent relationship" with law enforcement and quarterly meetings to address the issue. He said the racino also took a proactive step in addressing the problem by committing $5,000 to the Youth Court program.

According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, a youth development survey of grades seven to 12 was collected between 2008 and September 2010, which found that online gambling by youth is at almost twice the rate of adult gambling, and 77 to 83 percent of teens are involved in some type of gambling, with 15 percent at risk of developing serious gambling problems. Of those numbers, about 20 percent of youth are in New York (about 300,000). The gambling practices included scratch off lottery cards, playing cards, sports or other activities for money, betting on raffles or charity games, betting online, at casinos or on animals.

Murphy said while the statistics are startling, Saratoga County hasn't had any major incidents or even necessarily a greater problem than the rest of the state.

"We haven't had incidents where para-mutuel clerks have been charged with a crime and presently, there isn't a statute that covers the child or teenager who tries to gamble, so there's no dis-incentive," said Murphy.

Murphy said he believes a piece of legislation that could possibly implement a law similar to underage drinking and its consequences would be a big step in tackling the growing problem.

"Right now, there's nothing we can do to dissuade them because there's no criminal conduct, so what we're hoping for is some statute like the underage drinking statute that we could pass through the legislature, so we can discourage kids trying to gamble and also the people taking the bets to be held responsible. Both sides of the equation would have no incentive to enter into an underage agreement," said Murphy.

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