Schools in Maryland May Soon Be Teaching Students the Risks of Gambling

High schools in Maryland may embrace a new school subject about the risks of gambling. The school program is suggested as part of the schools’ curriculum.

The Risks of Gambling Could Be Soon Taught in Maryland’s Schools

Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Anne Arundel, sponsored Senate Bill 0243 and directed the Maryland State Department of Education to create a program for schools that will teach students about the dangers of gambling. Simonaire stated that schools can choose to implement the “gambling curriculum” that’s already created or develop a new one.

Whether the bill will pass or not lies in the hands of the state legislature. Last year Sen. Bryan Simonaire proposed a similar bill, which passed through the Senate, however, due to the legislative session ending too early, it wasn’t voted in the House of Delegates.

In his argument about educating students on the risks of gambling addiction, Simonaire referred to studies that show the age group and social-economic classes of people most exposed to gambling addiction. The studies show that young people between the ages of 18 and 34 and people from lower social-economic classes have a higher risk of becoming gambling addicts according to the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Australia.

Simonaire believes that education is key when it comes to preventing addictive behavior. On one hand, the revenue from gambling is helpful in terms of helping the state with other issues, but the citizens are exposed to the risks of gambling and that’s a state problem. According to Maryland law, every year $500 per table game and $425 from every slot machine go to the Problem Gambling Fund. In 2019 three casino operators from Maryland donated $542 million to the state’s Education Fund.

This is not the first time that gambling addiction is introduced to a school curriculum. Recently, an educational program in school on the risk of gambling was suggested by the Faculty of Public Health in Northern Ireland. Health experts have said that the problem of children being exposed to gambling advertising should be properly addressed.

A Few Schools and Lawmakers Oppose the Bill

Some local schools are against a new curriculum. Last year a spokesperson from both the Anne Arundel County Public School system and the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners testified against the bill. The Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners stated that they will testify against this year’s bill as well because they don’t want to change the curriculum.

They believe that healthy eating, abuse, and consent are the current topics that need to be addressed. However, during Wednesday’s meeting, it became clear that the Maryland Association of Boards of Education will not oppose the bill as it did in 2020.

Last year two lawmakers also opposed Simonaire’s bill. Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s didn’t say if he would oppose again. Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery, however, said that she would oppose it again. According to her, the Local Boards of Education should decide the curriculum of school systems.

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