A proposition to lower the gambling age in Florida from 21 to 18 years old will be voted on by the Florida Senate next week.
Passing this proposition may pose a risk to college-age students looking for a quick way to lessen the burden of hefty loans and living expenses, as their age group is at the highest risk for developing a gambling problem.
However, being legal adults means 18-year-olds should have a fundamental right to do what they want with their money, provided it does not harm the lives of others.
Those who are 18 and older can already bet in greyhound and horse races and play the lottery, which essentially are no different from Las Vegas-style gambling.
The risk posed by gambling has entirely to do with one’s personal investment.
Eighteen-year-olds have the ability to make cognitive decisions by law, so odds are that they have the ability to comprehend the risk of betting their own money.
Though some of the table games not yet legal for 18-year-olds have higher buy-ins, they should not be forced into a separate legal category. There is no difference between betting $100 on a game of no-limit poker and buying 100 $1 scratch-offs.
In fact, a player’s odds of getting a royal flush — the best hand in poker — is more than 100 times greater than the odds of winning the PowerBall, a game in which 18-year-olds can already legally participate.
As for the concerns for a young individual’s possible change in lifestyle because of gambling, it would be better for them to start at an age in which they will play sober. It is a given that a number of underage persons do engage in the consumption of alcohol, but in public it can be regulated. This could prevent a large amount of 21st birthday bashes which result in a night of drunken, uneducated, high-stakes gambling.
With a $6 billion deficit, Florida’s economy could benefit from the legalization of the 18-year-old legal gambling age. Other famous gambling locations — including Las Vegas and Atlantic City — do not allow 18-year-olds to gamble, so youths from other states might begin to travel to Florida, which would stimulate the state’s economiy.
When all is said and done, it comes down to the basic right to live freely in one’s adulthood — and it seems that gambling is one of the few age-restricted privileges that is a no-brainer.