Signs of Teen Gambling

Mar 13, 2024

It’s normal for teens to experiment. It’s also common for them to explore alcohol, cigarettes, and substances. However, they could put themselves at a higher risk for addiction later in life.

The same is said for gambling, which halts development in the brain. It’s important to speak to your kids about gambling. This prevents it from developing into an addiction. 

Although gambling is illegal under the age of 18, there are still teens who partake in this activity. Most gambling disorders occur as young as 10 years old. 

Gambling addiction is sometimes linked to substance abuse and suicide. The following information can help you be aware of the risks and signs involved.  

Where Does Teen Gambling Begin?

Gambling and sports betting are now legal in 38 states. Also, gambling apps are on the rise. Young people are exposed to these platforms at a young age. 

Gambling addiction mostly occurs with newer forms of gambling, such as adult poker games, fantasy football, or sports betting. Some teens even “scratch off” tickets they receive from their parents or another adult. Video games and mobile games both come with loot boxes, cash, and prizes.

Spot the Warning Signs

It’s imperative to look out for the warning signs associated with teen gambling. This prevents it from becoming a problem. The most common warning signs of teen gambling include: 

  • Aggression or defensiveness 

  • Lack of interest in school 

  • Increased time spent online 

  • Mental health problems like anxiety or depression

  • Missing money or new piles of money 

Practice Prevention

Prevention starts at home. It’s the parent’s responsibility to be a healthy role model for their kids. Consider your attitude toward lottery games or poker. 

Establish rules for online use or screen time—set restrictions on exposure to gambling apps, mobile games, or sports betting. If your child wants to use a credit card, find out why. 

Common types of gambling activity

The Pew Research Center found that one out of five Americans gambled in the past 12 months. Gambling and sports betting are on the rise among teens and young adults. Gambling comes in two forms: chance-based and skills-based.

Chance-based gambling includes elements you can’t control like losing the lottery. Skills-based gambling allows players to use techniques and skills to control the game, such as in blackjack or poker. 

Loot boxes/loot crates

Loot boxes are common in children’s games and video games in the UK and are unregulated. Forty percent of children who play with loot crates are likely to have a gambling addiction. 

According to the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), loot boxes are often linked to problematic gambling behavior. Some countries like Belgium deemed them problematic and banned them.

Social casino games

Casino gambling typically takes at casinos and resorts. These types of games include both chance-based and skills-based gambling. 

Common casino games include card games, dice games, slot machines, and spinning wheels. While gambling itself can be lonely, casino games make you feel as if you’re part of a community of gamblers. 

E-sports betting

There has been a boom in e-sports betting in the past few years. It’s popular among young adults and teen boys, most of which these ads attract.

A recent study found that 40% of American men between 18 and 49 have one account linked to an online sports betting account. Most of them frequent mental health clinics and Gamblers Anonymous meetings. 

Social media, gambling, and youth

According to another study, more children and teens have been exposed to social media ads in recent years. Some of these ads are gambling ads, which target kids more than adults. These ads portray gambling as something as fun and harmless as board games or puzzles. 

Exposing them to gambling can set them up for addiction later in life. Most users are under the age of 25 and do not fit the intended audience for these ads.

Dangers Associated with Teen Gambling

Risk is common when it comes to teens. It’s a skill used to gain independence and individuality. However, experimenting with drugs and gambling can put them at higher risk for addiction. 

Gambling is a risk that’s hardly recognized in teenagers because the signs are not always obvious. Speak to your teen about gambling and substance problems such as alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Having an open and honest conversation prevents this from being a problem.

Increased Risk of Developing a Gambling Problem

Children under the age of 12 are four times more likely to develop a gambling addiction. This is because the part of their brain where they make decisions hasn’t fully developed yet.

They don’t realize the risks associated with gambling. Gambling leads them to poor-decision making. The more money to spend, the riskier games they play. 

Gambling can lead to financial problems, mental health problems, relationship issues, and stress. If gambling becomes a problem, it can ruin every aspect of that person’s life. 

Mental Health Issues

Problematic gambling use develops into an addiction when the habit is out of control. It triggers dopamine levels in the brain, which offers an emotional boost. 

Gambling can lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and stress. There’s also a link between gambling and suicide

If you develop a mental health problem after gambling, you should consider speaking with a mental health professional.

Why Do Teens Gamble?

Teens are willing to try something new, even if it’s risky. Most teens are impressionable and are likely to gamble if their friends are doing it. This is the case with both traditional and modern forms of gambling. 

Teens who are obsessed with sports are more likely to develop a sports betting addiction. The same goes for those who constantly play mobile games or video games. 

They get an adrenaline rush every time they play. Gambling offers them that thrill they’re seeking in their life. They might also associate gambling with “easy money.” If you or someone you know has a gambling addiction, take a 100% free and confidential assessment today.


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