The prevalence rate for impaired youth gamblers is 3 to 5 times the adult rate. 

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Do you know…

  • Among high school students, the percent who have ever gambled (87%) exceeds the percent who have ever used alcohol or drugs (67%).
  • Students who gamble excessively are more likely to abuse substances and vice versa.
  • The rate of problem gambling among high school students significantly exceeds the rate for adults.

Additional Warning Signs for Teens

  • Carries or possesses gambling materials (dice, playing cards, scratch tickets)
  • Missing money or possessions in the house
  • Steals from family to get money for gambling
  • Uses ‘other money’ (lunch, bus) to gamble; weight loss my become evident
  • Personality changes: frequent mood swings
  • Gambles to escape worries, frustration or disappointments
  • Displaying unexplained wealth
  • Unusual interest in sports scores and point spreads over favorite teams and who wins

Some Other Important Teen Facts

  • 4-8% of adolescents presently have a serious gambling problem with another 10-14% of adolescents at risk for developing a serious gambling problem.
  • The average age at which problem gamblers had their first contact with any sort of gambling was 10 years old.
  • A recent study found that more than 50 percent of kids who gamble reported problems like over-spending. Teens record that they can win/lose as much as $150 to $200 a night.
  • A recent nationwide study estimates 2.9 million young people are gambling on cards on a weekly basis.
  • 84% of parents do not object to their children gambling.
  • 61% of teens who gamble do it with their parent’s permission.

What can parents do?
Below is a list of suggestions for parents to help protect and educate their children and their communities.

  • Examine your own attitudes and behaviors concerning gambling.
  • Learn the facts about gambling: age restrictions, types of gambling, and gambling terminology.
  • Educate yourself on the warning signs of problem gambling and be cognizant of changes in behavior that might indicate a problem.
  • Talk to your children about the risks associated with gambling.
  • Be responsible role models; practice what you preach.
  • Help form a collaborative network among parents, teachers, youth workers, coaches and other role models in the community to raise awareness and support healthy gambling behaviors.
  • Request that schools provide education about gambling and problem gambling, just as they do for substance abuse.

What can high schools do?

  • Establish and enforce policies regarding gambling in school for students and staff.
  • Evaluate those who break school polices for potential gambling problems.
  • Eliminate the following: Las Vegas Night type activities on prom and graduation nights, gambling-related fundraisers, and sports pools associated with staff, parent, and student activities.  
  • Incorporate a module on gambling and problem gambling into the Health and Education Curriculum.
  • Run stories on problem gambling and/or recovering gamblers in the school newspaper.
  • Use school-based drama groups to teach about gambling in an entertaining form.
  • Create or include information resources for a student health fair.
  • Conduct a poster/video contest to create a positive message about gambling and problem gambling prevention.

What do we know so far?  Research has shown that adolescent problem gamblers:

  • are more likely to be boys but girls seem to be catching up
  • are overly represented as a group compared to adult problem gamblers
  • are greater risk takers in general
  • often show signs of lower self esteem
  • tend to report higher rates of depression
  • often gamble to escape problems
  • are more likely to develop an addiction(s)
  • seem to be more excitable and outgoing
  • are more anxious and less self-disciplined
  • are at greater risk for suicidal ideation and suicide attempts
  • often replace their regular friends with gambling acquaintances
  • have poor general coping skills
  • report beginning gambling at an early age (approximately 10)
  • often recall an early big win
  • report more daily hassles and major traumatic life events
  • often have parents, relatives, or friends who gamble
  • are more likely to be delinquent and involved in criminal activities to acquire money
  • develop problems with family and friends
  • move quickly from just gambling with friends and family to problem gambling
  • show decreased academic performance

Taken from the International Center for youth Gambling Problems www.education.mcgill.ca/gambling

Quick Survey
Below is a quick questionnaire you be might have your teen complete if you are worried about a gambling problem. This not a diagnostic tool but it may give you some idea if further help is needed!

  • Is gambling the most exciting activity in your life?
  • Do you miss school, activities, or other events due to gambling?
  • Has anyone expressed concern about your gambling?
  • Do you lie to your friends or family about your gambling?
  • Do you borrow money to gamble?
  • Have you sold personal belongings to get money to gamble?
  • Have you stolen from your family, friends, or employer to gamble or to pay back gambling debts?
  • After losing, do you try to win your money back by gambling?
  • Are you preoccupied with thoughts of gambling?
  • Have you tried to stop gambling but can't?