How Gambling has Become Normalised for Teens

According to the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, up to 80 per cent of 13 to 17-year olds gamble. ‘This includes gambling with friends, playing lottery tickets, raffles and sweeps’.

Young people may gain access to gambling sites by accidentally clicking on a pop-up or ad, or they may deliberately choose to visit a gambling site out of curiosity. Unfortunately, the age restrictions associated with these sites are usually quite easy to get around. 

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation further acknowledges that social media, games and in-app advertising make online gambling more accessible and attractive to young people. What is appealing to young people about participating in prohibited activities such as gambling is not the money but the excitement and social image or praise that tends to come from it.

A lot of sports betting occurs on smartphones and tablets. This increases the risk, ease of access, and ability for young people to hide their gambling from parents. 

Key Statistics On Under Age Gambling 

  • 75% of children aged 8–16 who watch sport believe that betting on it is normal
  • 25% of children aged 8–16 who watch sport can name 4 or more sports betting companies
  • 1 in 5 adults with a gambling problem started gambling before they were 18.

While, according to experts, underage gambling does not automatically lead to problems with gambling, teenagers are more vulnerable to developing addictions because they:

  • have less impulse control and capacity to understand or evaluate risks
  • are more likely to think they’re going to win
  • believe they can predict winners in sport, or even the pokies when they can’t
  • are less able to be critical about or resist advertising.

In terms of the long-term impacts, research suggests that teenagers who gamble are 4 times more likely to develop a gambling problem than adults who gamble.

Under Age Gambling: Things You Can Do

  • Understand that young people often gamble for the same reason they try other risky activities such as using drugs or alcohol.
  • Be prepared to hear counter arguments such as ‘everybody else does it’. 
  • Set clear rules and boundaries and establish predetermined consequences (rather than enforcing arbitrary knee-jerk punishments).
  • Bear in mind that research has shown that a child’s feelings towards gambling are strongly influenced by the home environment, peer pressure and the media.
  • Talk to young people about gambling to give them a chance to understand what it is, how it works and the impact it can have on a person’s life so that they can make informed choices. 
  • Be vigilant in observing your child’s behaviour and any changes in these behaviours that may indicate problem gambling risk factors.
  • Avoid letting your child have access to apps or games which contain heavy in-app advertising, as these are often breeding grounds for gambling ads. 

Under Age Gambling: The Warning Signs

  • obsession with simulated gambling apps and games 
  • spending lots of time talking or thinking about gambling
  • experiencing mood swings, feeling stressed when not gambling
  • lying or being secretive about gambling activities
  • borrowing or taking money from family and friends
  • missing school or grades falling due to the time being spent gambling.

Where To Go For More Information About Under Age Gambling

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Resources and research on youth gambling addiction 

Gambling Helpline. Support for anyone affected by gambling

Know the odds. A guide: Knowing the dangers of youth gambling addiction

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