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Facts About Kids & Gambling

Kids are gambling at an early age, with research showing that 43% of those surveyed have gambled in the past year. Kids are more likely to gamble than drink, do drugs or smoke, yet they’re far less educated on the subject. That’s why it’s never too early start the conversation with kids about gambling.

What Is Gambling?

In the simplest terms, gambling is when you wager money, or something of value, on a game of chance. Gambling can take many forms. It can be an innocent game of poker with friends, betting on sports or even just redeeming a lottery ticket received as a gift.

The Facts

  • Studies conducted worldwide have found the average problem gambler started gambling at age 10.
  • Kids are exposed to gambling images almost every day — from the corner store that sells lottery tickets to TV ads for poker and the local casino.
  • The types of gambling activities with the most participation by kids under 18 are Scratch & Win tickets, poker and betting on the outcome of a game.
  • Kids who say their parents have gambled in the past year are significantly more likely to participate in gambling activities themselves.

Watch for Signs

Keep an eye out for these actions and behaviours:

  • Has friends who gamble regularly
  • Is obsessed with the results of professional sports
  • Often has dice, playing cards or lottery tickets
  • Lies or is secretive about gambling activities
  • Borrows or takes money from others to gamble
  • Money or possessions go missing from the house

What’s the Big Deal?

Not all adults see a problem with kids’ playing a game of poker either at home or with friends. Likewise, kids see gambling in movies as being glamorous and exciting, even as a lucrative career.

But there can be cause for concern. Young minds are still developing and less capable of risk assessment. This part of their brain won’t be full developed until well past adolescence. Of course, some kids are more attracted to risk-taking behaviour than others. They see activities like gambling as exciting and therefore often ignore the potentially negative outcome.

Research Results

Decoding BC Youth and Gambling is a study commissioned by BCLC. It explores the current attitudes and behaviour of British Columbian youth with regards to gambling. DECODE, a national research firm specializing in the study of youth, conducted the research.

Download the study [950KB] to learn more.

Parents as Partners is a related national research project that explores awareness and attitudes towards youth gambling among parents in B.C. BCLC led the study, and commissioned DECODE and Dr. Jeff Derevensky, director of McGill University International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviour.

Download the study [1.47 MB] to learn more.


GameSense Tips

Play for fun, not to make money.

Know how the game works and what the odds are before playing.

Set a budget and stick to it.

Don't chase losses. Accept them as the cost of entertainment.

Balance gambling with other types of leisure activities.

Take frequent breaks.

Set a time limit before you play.

View All Tips

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