Maryland Lawmaker Introduces Legislation Regarding Youth Gambling Education

Maryland Senator Bryan Simonaire has introduced legislation that will provide lessons for high school age kids to learn more about the dangers associated with gambling. Senate Bill 322 would provide educational opportunities in state high schools to discuss gambling addiction and how to prevent being susceptible to the issue. The bill was introduced at a time when sports betting is under consideration in the state.

Details of the Legislation

The bill was able to pass within the Senate just a short time ago and will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on March 18th. According to the Senator, the expansion of gambling in the state has raised concerns regarding gambling addiction as well as abuse problems. He introduced the bill to help children learn at a young age how gambling can affect players and what to do if an issue arises.

Gambling was first introduced in the state back in 2008 via a referendum which allowed slots-only casinos. Four years later, the state decided to allow table games. They also voted to allow a new casino to be constructed. MGM National Harbor opened in 2016 and was the first to offer full-scale casino gaming.

More Help with Gambling Addiction

During a hearing last month, Senator Simonaire stated that money is going to help people who have gambling related problems but more preventative measures are needed to ensure that the youth are protected.

With the bill, lessons covering the risks associated with gambling would be placed in high schools beginning during the 2021-2022 school year. According to the senator, the education community should have a role in supporting students who are adversely affected from the gambling industry.

In general, the teachers in the state are often against the state trying to have a hand in their curriculum. The State Education Association provided written testimony to Senator Simonaire before the first hearing took place on the bill.

After a meeting with the department, the Senator changed the bill and it now requires the education department to create lesson plans for education agencies to select from. The department would have to report the jurisdictions that implanted the plans after a two-year time frame.

The bill was reportedly modeled after the Smart Choices program from 2014 that was introduced by the Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling. With the legislation, the curriculum would have three hour-long lessons that teach students refusal skills. This type of education would take place in health classes within four-year high school facilities.

Even though the amendments were made to the bill the Association of Boards of Education is not in support of the effort. They feel that health educators already have too much too teach and will not be able to find time to implement the new curriculum.

It is unclear as to if the bill will be able to move forward without the support of educators. The idea is a good one, as it will help kids to learn more about the gambling industry and how to make smart choices involving gambling activity. However, the educators are right in saying they already have a full load and it would be difficult to be able to add more to their already full plate. We shall see in the coming weeks if the bill is able to move forward and if a change is on the horizon for the state’s education system regarding gambling.


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