Mass. launches youth sports betting safety coalition

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With college sports tournaments taking place at both ends of Massachusetts this week, Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell on Thursday announced the launch of a public-private partnership to focus on the risks of sports betting and gambling among young people.

The Youth Sports Betting Safety Coalition is meant to raise awareness of the laws, risks, and public health harms associated with gambling, and will develop an evidence-based education, training and health curriculum intended for people ages 12 through 20 — roughly from middle school into college and up to the state’s minimum sports betting and casino gambling age of 21.

“Because Massachusetts has entered a new era with sports betting now literally available at your fingertips, it is critical that we raise awareness of the public health risks associated with this activity, particularly for young people,” Campbell said. “This coalition brings together the business, professional sports, nonprofit and responsible gaming communities to best achieve one common goal: better protect and educate young adults across the Commonwealth.”

The group’s founding members are Campbell’s office, the Mass. Gaming Commission, the NCAA, Mass. Council on Gaming and Health, Civic Action Project, Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots and New England Revolution. Campbell announced the coalition Thursday at TD Garden, where the NCAA men’s basketball tournament plays Sweet 16 games Thursday night. On Thursday afternoon, Springfield’s MassMutual Center hosted the NCAA men’s hockey tournament (including the University of Massachusetts against Denver University).

“The NCAA is committed to protecting the well-being of student-athletes and the integrity of collegiate competition from the harms of sports betting,” said NCAA President Charlie Baker, Massachusetts’ former governor. “The Association is proud to work with Attorney General Campbell and the Gaming Commission, and Boston’s pro teams to extend our reach and educate more young people about sports betting risks. I am thankful the Attorney General is bringing the right people to the table to work on this issue.”

Campbell’s office pointed to national data from the NCAA, which shows that 58% of 18- to 22-year-olds have engaged in at least one sports betting activity. The 2023 NCAA survey also found that print, radio and television advertisements influence, and often reinforce, betting activity, the AG’s office said. About 63% of young people surveyed recalled recently seeing or hearing ads that encourage sports betting and 58% said they are more likely to bet after seeing such ads.

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