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Kids & Gambling

It's clear that kids are exposed to gambling every day. Whether they are watching poker on TV or seeing ads for online gaming websites while surfing the internet, gambling is commonplace in today's society. As a result, 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 to start the conversation with kids about gambling.

The Facts

  • 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.
  • Studies conducted worldwide have found the average problem gambler started gambling at age 10.
  • Gambling can be a damaging addiction, causing loss of interest in school, work, friends, and family.
  • Research from the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation showed teens were gambling online three times as often as adults.

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.

Watch for Signs

  • 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.
  • Unexplained absences from school or sudden drop in grades.
  • Gambles with money intended for a different use (lunch, bus fare, etc.).

Talking to Kids About Gambling

Unlike other risk behaviours like drinking and smoking, most parents do not talk to their kids about gambling, leaving kids to make up their own rules. As a parent, it is important to recognize that gambling carries risk and to approach it as you would with other risky behaviours. The good news is that statistics indicate kids look first to their parents for advice and guidance. So knowing the facts about gambling and starting the conversation earlier means kids will be better prepared to make responsible choices.

How to Start the Conversation

It's never too early to start the conversation with kids about gambling. Below are some easy ways to prepare.

  • Use your GameSense by arming yourself with good information – how gambling works and the common myths.
  • Bring the conversation up naturally, like when watching poker on TV or during the announcement about the latest lottery winner.
  • Pose hypothetical questions to get the conversation started. Maybe ask how they'd feel about betting, and losing, one of their prized processions.
  • Let kids know your expectations about gambling, and your reasons for them.
  • Ask lots of questions and listen carefully. It's a great way to discover what they know and dispel any misconceptions.
  • Talk to them about the difference between skill-based games (like video games and sports) where practice can pay off, versus gambling where the outcome is random and chance-based.
  • Explain that gambling is not a way to make money – internet gambling sites are designed so that most people lose money in the long term.
  • Dispel common gambling myths and explain that there is no system, set of skills or amount of practice that will make someone a successful gambler.
  • Remember, actions speak louder than words. The best thing you can do is demonstrate responsible gambling habits.
  • If have specific concerns, you can call the Problem Gambling Help Line at 1-888-795-6111. There you'll find someone to talk to 24 hours a day.

More Tips For Parents

  • Know your kids' friends and who they are spending time with.
  • Talk to other parents if you think your kids are accessing online gambling sites at their friend's house.
  • Set consistent rules and consequences for internet use.
  • If necessary, explore content filtering software to block access to gambling websites.
  • Never give your credit card information or bank details to your kids to access gambling websites.
  • Protect your account information, including username and password.
  • Log off when you leave your computer.

Managing Online Content

Preventing access to minors is of utmost importance to us. In British Columbia, the legal age to gamble is 19 years old. The registration process and software on are designed to restrict minors from creating accounts through a rigorous identity verification process. However, despite the measures we take to maintain this safety net, there is never 100% certainty in an online world. Parents are encouraged to incorporate content-filtering software or parental control products on their home computers to help prevent kids from accessing online gambling and related content. If you are aware of a minor that is gambling on, please contact PlayNow Support via live chat, email or by calling 1-877-706-6789.

Content Filtering & Parental Controls

48% of kids surveyed in BC say it is "easy" to gamble online, even though they're underage. So as much as you might want kids to enjoy all the discoveries the virtual world offers, there are sites they simply shouldn't visit. You'll never know everything kids are doing online. But there are steps you can take so you know what they're not doing!

How Does Content-Filtering Software Work?

Content-filtering software is designed to help control what internet content and resources users have access to.

  • It can be applied to any computer to prevent access to websites with objectionable content, including gambling and gaming.
  • It can allow password protected access to certain individuals so that content is blocked for those who need it and accessed by those who don't.
  • Some programs even allow users to limit the amount of time spent accessing the internet.

How Do I Get Content-Filtering Software?

There are many content-filtering and parental control products available on the internet on both a 'paid' and 'free' basis. An internet search will reveal a variety of providers, options and information on these tools. Try searching using keywords such as:

  • "Content Filtering Software"
  • "Parental Control"
  • "Internet Blocking Software"

Whether you choose a paid or free version of this software, do your research and find the tool that is right for you!