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Kids & Gambling

Did you know kids are more likely to gamble than drink, do drugs or smoke, yet they’re far less prepared to handle and understand the risks of gambling. That’s why it’s important to start the conversation early. Here’s how to prepare yourself:

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

What can I do?

Talk to them about the difference between skill-based games like video games and sports where practice can pay off, versus gambling (like slots and the lottery), where the outcome is random and chance-based

Practice healthy and responsible gambling habits yourself, setting an example for your children.

Learn as much as you can about key concepts of gambling and common myths.

Watch for signs

If you’re concerned, there are some signs to keep an eye out for which could be an indication of a gambling problem. If he or she:

  • Has friends who gamble regularly
  • Is obsessed with the results of professional sporting events
  • Is often playing around with 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

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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 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 their involvement in 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 – 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 1-800-463-1554. 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

While most online gaming services attempt to prevent children from accessing their services, young people say it’s quite easy to gamble online. If you’re a parent, you can incorporate content-filtering software to help prevent your kids from accessing online gambling sites. Read on for different options.

Content-filtering Software

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 to find content-filtering software

There are many content-filtering and parental control products available on the internet. 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"