Scholarship awarded to local student for video game gambling study

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Claudia St. John // Courtesy MGC

Claudia St. John of Kansas City, Missouri, a senior at Staley High School, is one of four students in Missouri to win the 24th annual Project 21 Scholarship competition sponsored by the Missouri Gaming Association, the professional organization representing casino operators in Missouri. St. John will receive a $1,500 scholarship towards tuition at the University of Missouri – Kansas City where she plans to study computer science.

St. John created an article titled “The Dicey Online Market of Underage Gambling” that focuses on ways video gaming companies take advantage of teens and children by enticing them to purchase popular game features or loot boxes.

“I found it surprising that a higher percentage of adolescents are online gambling than the percentage of those who are underage drinking,” said St. John. “Because it is more prevalent than drinking, it should fit into the school curriculum and be addressed as just as important as underage drinking.”

The Project 21 Scholarship was developed to educate young people about the issues and dangers of underage gambling. In Missouri, it’s illegal for persons under the age of 21 to gamble in a casino. The competition is open to all Missouri high school seniors planning to attend an institution of higher education in the United States within four years of graduation.

The students were asked to create an essay/article, poster or video aimed at educating their peers about the illegality and dangers of underage gambling. The entries were published or viewed in the students’ high schools in January or February to help educate other students.

The Missouri Gaming Association awards one $2,500 scholarship and three $1,500 scholarships, jointly issued to the winners and the accredited institutions of higher education they select.

“The Missouri casino industry is dedicated to education in our state, both through the education funding from gaming tax revenues and through awareness efforts like Project 21,” said Mike Winter, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association.  “Young people are influenced mostly by what they hear from their peers, so Project 21 encourages students to learn about the issues of underage gambling and to share that information with their classmates.”

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