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TITLE: Is gambling kid's stuff?

An increasing number of grown-ups and especially children have taken to gambling lately. The latter come to spend all their savings and the pocket money their parents give them on bets. A foolishness on their behalf and a felony on the behalf of those who help them.

The under-aged are not allowed to enter a betting shop and according to article Nr. 171 (published in the Gazette on the 22 nd of April 1999, the fiend amounts to 15-30 dollars). Most teenagers buy a ticket daily and the latest trend of how to spend your main break in school is by forecasting sport events. "Can you lend me some change to buy a ticket?" my school colleagues ask me daily.

Nobody can contest the fact that betting has become a routine among students. "I have also placed a bet, but who hasn't?" Sorin, an VIII th grade student in Salajan neighborhood told, as if surprised by our question.

Betting shops placed strategically.

In order to make sure of how things stand, I went to such a betting shop in Vitan, just across School Nr 84. About 15 people were filling in bet-tickets in haste. Nine of them were 12-15 year old kids. I returned in a couple of hours and found only adults this time. 15 minutes later nobody asked me to leave although, according to the law I do not have the proper age to be allowed into a betting shop. I sat in line and when I reached the ticket office I asked the agent the reason for which he allowed children inside; "We let no child inside. Is that clear? I wanted to ask you to leave as well, but I realized you were up to something", the man told me, clearly bothered by my boldness.

"But the place was packed with children half an hour ago…" I retorted.

"I do not think so. My colleagues were here at the time. I'll talk to them, but it's unlikely" he tried to defend himself, afterwhich he reduced me to silence: "See the sign there on the door which specifies that the underaged are not allowed inside? We don't go against the law!

Students inform us that they are sometime driven away from betting shops but that they get in by using the back door and ask the adults to register their tickets. "Sometimes we are not allowed inside but we find someone who registers the ticket for us" a 14 year old boy, a sports forecasts fun, told us. We couldn't convince him to tell us his name: "I hope you won't write about me in your paper or else they won't let me in anylonger and I'm through with pocket money.

Gain, a false friend

We also wanted to see if money can be gained from betting. What we found out surprised us. Even the luckiest gamblers happen to lose once in a while. "I once gained 8 dollars and some other time 12 dollars but I invested over 30 dollars" George another bet fan, told us. Others are more lucky. I once gained 25 dollars but I had spent on the bet over 30 dollars. A lot of money, no doubt" Alex, an eight grade student, told us. Teachers are not exactly pleased with this new trend among students. "Naturally, children are tented to reach the forbidden tree, but the adults that help them are to be blamed. They should be held responsible for breaking the law like those who sell cigarettes to kids. The police should be less indulgent with them and apply the law, Steluta Vlad from Secondary School Nr 84 told us.

The law - too willing

The law gives a 30 dollars fiend to most of the betting shops that sell tickets to underaged (article 171, published in the Gazette, on the 22 nd of April 1999) "It's a small sum. The firms would rather break the law, one day's gain being larger than the fine" declared Mara, a VIIth grade student who disapproves of what her colleagues are doing.

Andrei Jujan, Bucharest

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