Michigan Senate Bill to Fight Gambling Addiction Through Education

Jessica Aletor
Jessica Aletor


  • Senator Joe Bellino introduced the Bill on Responsible Gambling Education to the Michigan Senate.
  • SB54 will mandate the Department of Education to develop a program of learning on responsible gambling for High Schools.
  • Bill comes as a result of MGCB campaigns and reports on gambling addictions among US High School Students.

Sen. Joe Bellino presented a bill to the Michigan Senate that attempts to tackle the gambling addiction problem with education. The bill is meant to make gambling education compulsory so children can understand the risks associated with gambling and how it can become an addiction while they are still young.

Bill 54 will introduce Gambling Education into School Districts and Academies

Senator Bellino’s bill will demand that the Michigan Department of Education should develop a program of instruction on gambling education for schools by July 1, 2024. The content of this program is meant to be appropriate for the grade and age group it is made for, and the bill makes it compulsory for it to be made available for public school academies and school districts to make use of.

The Senator’s office, in a press release, highlighted different reasons for the bill and pointed out that the bill has bipartisan support. Presently, it has been referred to the Senate Education Committee for further scrutiny.

Asides from the illegal gambling activities that students could participate in, students could also access some retail casinos that place their age requirements at 18. All of these places them at risk of becoming problem gamblers, and this is what SB54 tries to prevent by introducing gambling education to students really early. The learning plan will make the children aware of the dangers of excessive gambling and how it can be controlled.

High School Students are at risk of Gambling Addictions

Information from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) states that 4% to 6% of high school students in the US are struggling with gambling addictions. It also claimed that 60% to 80% of US students have participated in some gambling activity in the past year.

All this is happening even though the legal age for gambling is usually either 18 or 21. In Michigan, the legal age at which you can start gambling with any of the 15 online casinos is 21 years. However, in traditional retail casinos, they could place the minimum age for gambling at 18 years, and this will include some high school seniors. Also, there are a lot of illegal gambling activities that students often get involved in, irrespective of the state’s age limit on gambling.

Senator Bellino’s office highlighted the fact that the legalization of gambling in 30 states and the spread of mobile gambling software in the US have put high school students at risk of developing problem gambling habits early. The Senator’s office also pointed out how up to 5% of students meet the criteria for having a gambling addiction. They have exhibited habits like signing IOUs to place bets and continuing to play while losing money with the hope of getting a big win.

While giving reasons for the bill, Senator Bellino’s office stated that many young people do not see gambling as being a risky activity. Thus, just as teachers instruct students on the dangers of drugs and other social vices, they should also let them know the dangerous results that come with gambling addictions.

MGCB Raising Awareness for Responsible Gambling Among Students

Before SB54 was introduced to the Michigan Senate, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) had been involved in raising awareness for responsible gambling education for High School Students. Last year, the MGCB partnered with the American Gaming Association to raise awareness on responsible gambling during Responsible Gambling Awareness month.

The campaign involved sharing some tips to help parents and guardians identify when their wards were involved in gambling activities. As a result of the age limit on gambling in the state, students often engage in illegal gambling practices when they develop a gambling addiction.

The board also agitated for the inclusion of responsible gaming into students' learning plans in Michigan. The campaign was for the inclusion of the fourth ‘R’ to the “arithmetic, reading and writing” that students traditionally study. The fourth ‘R’ here is “responsible gaming.” Just like SB54, the reason for this agitation from the MGCB was to protect young children from developing gambling addictions by letting them know the consequences of dangerous gambling.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, casino.zone and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments