This Thursday, Stroudsburg High School will hold its annual prom at Penn’s Peak. While anticipation is high for the annual dance, some parents have raised concerns over this year’s prom theme. Students chose “Casino Night.” Students will be given fake play money during the night and can play several casino games to win fake gaming chips. Having been approved by the administration, some parents are worried that this could potentially lead to destructive behavior for these children later in life. Gambling is prohibited in the Commonwealth by any person under the age of 21.
Heidi Sweetser-Cohen, a local parent, is upset that this year’s theme was approved. “The school’s responsibility is to protect its students. You’re not protecting students by teaching them behavior that has addictive qualities. In Pennsylvania, It’s illegal to gamble at a casino under the age of twenty-one. They’re literally bringing in dealers to teach these kids how to properly play these games. Why? With the information about gambling addiction, this should have been a no-brainer. I feel they just want to be friends with these kids, like parents who want to be their kid’s friends and not their parents. I think they want the kids to like them, and they don’t want to say no,” Sweetzer-Cohen said, “That’s a bad school leader.”
According to The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), “Anyone who gambles can develop problems. This is why it is important to be aware of the risks and to gamble in a responsible way if you choose to gamble. When gambling behavior interferes with finances, relationships, and the workplace, a serious problem already exists.”
The NCPG also states, “A number of states allow children under 18 to gamble, and youth also participate in illegal forms of gambling, such as gambling on the internet or betting on sports in states where it is not legal. Therefore, it is not surprising that research shows that a vast majority of kids have gambled before their 18th birthday and that children may be more likely to develop issues related to gambling than adults. While the debate continues on this issue, there appear to be a number of factors influencing this finding. Parental attitudes and behavior play a role. Age of exposure plays a part–research shows that adults who seek treatment for problem gambling report having started gambling at an early age.”
Stroudsburg Area School District was unavailable for comment. Please check back as we will update if new information becomes available.
More information on gambling addiction can be found at https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/faq/#:~:text=How%20widespread%20is%20gambling%20in,gambling%20are%20Hawaii%20and%20Utah.
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