Grant funding to help combat youth gambling addiction

GRAFTON—With advancements in technology, youths have the world at their fingertips. With the good comes the bad, and one local organization is doing their part to help break certain forms of addiction associated with technology.

The Taylor County Collaborative Resource Network (TCCFRN) is working to help increase awareness about youth gambling. The TCCFRN has recently received a grant from the Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia, the group that operates the 1800GAMBLER helpline.

“We are excited to partner with the Taylor County FRN as they educate young people in their community about the dangers of problem gambling,” shared Jennifer Davis-Walton, Director of the Problem Gamblers Help Network of WV. “Unfortunately, many parents view gambling as a harmless activity, and even allow their kids to participate with them as they gamble.”

She revealed that the grant funding will be used to educate a whole new generation about gambling addiction, along with how video games and apps have begun incorporating gambling into activities for children.

“Did you know almost all games you play on your phone and on your computer teaches the brain to gamble,” questioned TCCFRN Executive Director Cathy Coontz-Griffith. “Most parents and kids have no idea.”

Recent studies have shown that by high school, most kids have gambled for money, and the National Council on Problem Gambling has reported that youths are more than twice as likely as adults to develop a gambling problem.

“Kids exposed to gambling are at risk for other issues, including substance abuse,” revealed Coontz-Griffith. “We are extremely excited to team with the Problem Gamblers Help Network of WV  (1800Gambler) to teach the parents and kids of Taylor County the dangers of gambling and addiction.”

With the funding, the TCCFRN will continue to showcase their First Friday events, as a way to promote the value of learning to make art projects as a hobby instead of gambling on the computer or phone, according to Coontz-Griffith.

“We also want to ramp up gambling prevention and awareness for kids,” she reported.

Walton said that gambling addiction affects many people in West Virginia. According to her, studies have shown that one percent of the population has a serious gambling problem and another two-to-three percent show symptoms of the disorder.

“Over 13,000 people in the state have called 1800GAMBLER for help,” she reported.

Callers to 1-800-GAMBLEr speak with a helpline counselor, based in Charleston. They are then referred to one of the network’s over 70 specially trained gambling addiction counselors.

Callers receive a free two-hour consultation, and funding is available for those who do not have insurance to pay for the additional treatments.

For more information, please call 1-800-GAMBLER or visit