NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For Eric, who works with Gamblers Anonymous, it all started at a tender age with a $1 Super Bowl bet.

“I actually should have been in GA from the time I was in kindergarten ’cause that’s the first time I made a bet on anything,” Eric told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.

In high school, he played poker with friends. He moved on to the Internet.

And then he went to Duke University.

“Every dorm had several games of poker every week,” he said. “Every dorm had people who were playing online.”

He was gambling 12 to 14 hours a day. He became depressed.

And then it all crashed down.

“I failed out of school,” Eric said. “I wasn’t honest with friends and family about what was going on in my life.”

Sadly, Eric’s story is not unique.

“Sixty-eight percent of youths between the ages of 14 and 21 have reported on various surveys taken across the United States having gambled in the past year,” said Eileen Dwyer, a clinical social worker in the Diocese of Brooklyn who goes to schools to talk to children and parents about the perils of drugs, alcohol and gambling.

“Youths, because of their brain development, can be rather impulsive, not understanding,” she said.

Dwyer said parents might think the lottery is harmless, but, “we’ve asked parents not to give scratch-offs to children in their Christmas cards, as very often parents do.”

As for Eric, he’s 28 now, studying at Columbia University and no longer gambling.

“My family trusts me for a change, and they believe me when I tell them things, which is something I never had when I was gambling,” he said.

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