Risks of Youth Gambling
Today’s youth are more exposed to legalized gambling than any other previous generation; therefore, it is important that they have information about gambling and are educated on the risks associated with it. Often times youth are exposed to gambling in such ways that the negative consequences associated with gambling are not evident. This leaves youth to think gambling is glamorous and a way to make all their dreams comes true. This section is intended to provide guidance for parents when it comes to talking with their children about gambling and helping them understand the risks associated with youth gambling.
What is Gambling?
Gambling is when you are risking something of value (i.e. money or personal belongings) on any activity with an uncertain outcome. Examples of gambling include sports betting, card games for money, buying lottery tickets, playing gaming machines (i.e. VLT’s or Slots) and Internet gambling, etc.
Research on Youth Gambling
Some research on youth gambling states that youth problem gamblers:
• Are more likely to be boys;
• Often recall a big win early on;
• Report gambling at an early age (approximately 10 years of age);
• Often have parents, friends and relatives who gamble;
• Have poor general coping skills;
• Show signs of lower self-esteem;
• Gamble to escape problems;
• Experience difficulty in school or show a decrease in academic performance ;
• Are more likely to be delinquent and involved in criminal activities to acquire money.
Tips for Parents
• Get informed - learn the facts about gambling, types of gambling activities, age restrictions and warning signs.
• Encourage discussions and questions about gambling. Encouraging these discussions around gambling does not mean you agree with the behaviour.
• Ensure you listen to what your child has to say.
• Be aware of your own gambling behaviours - remember you play an influential role in your children’s life. Keep in mind that children are more likely to gamble if they observe their family members gambling.
• Avoid buying gaming products (i.e. lottery tickets) for your child.
• Know where your kids are going online and what they are doing. Establish clear rules about what online games your children can play and keep Internet-connected computers in an open area, never in your children’s bedrooms.
Warning Signs of Youth Gambling
• Spends a lot of time gambling and talking about gambling.
• Carries or possesses gambling materials (dice, playing cards, scratch tickets).
• Missing school or grades start to worsen because of time spent gambling.
• Missing money or possessions in the house.
• Personality changes: experiences mood swings and feels stressed when not gambling regularly or trying to reduce or stop gambling.
• Gambles as a means to escape or forget their problems.
• Lies or is secretive about gambling activities.
• Borrows or takes money from family members or friends to gamble.
• Keeps on gambling because they believe that he/she can win back their money and then stop.
• Family members or friends are concerned that youth’s gambling is becoming serious.
It is important to keep in mind that an individual with gambling problems will not necessarily show all of these behaviours.
Information and Support
• Provincial Support Lines: Free and confidential support is just a phone call away
Prince Edward Island: 1-855-255-4255
New Brunswick: 1-800-461-1234
Newfoundland & Labrador: 1-888-899-HELP (4357)
Nova Scotia: 1-888-347-8888
www.gam-anon.org – Gam-Anon is a 12 Step self-help organization for those affected by the gambling problem of a loved one. No dues or fees are required.
www.betstopper.ca – BetStopper is a computer software program that is used as a prevention tool designed to help parents protect their children from visiting gambling websites.
• GamTalk Forum
www.gamtalk.org/forums – GamTalk is an online forum for anyone who wants to discuss gambling issues, concerns about the gambling behaviour of a friend or loved one,or are looking for advice on ways to keep gambling responsible.
• International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviors
www.youthgambling.com – For more information on youth gambling, research, tools and much more visit this website.