Consequences of Youth Gambling


You can’t see it in their eyes, or smell it in their breath. There are no track marks on their body. In many ways, it is a “hidden addiction.”

But gambling is a serious addiction, and the effects can be every bit as devastating (both to the gambler and their family) as drugs or alcohol. What’s more, gambling is often a “gateway” to other high-risk behaviors.  For example, multiple studies performed in the year 2000 indicated that youth’s gambling in the U.S. often preceded use of cigarettes, hard liquor and marijuana.1

In Louisiana, adolescents in juvenile detention are roughly four times more likely to have a serious gambling problem than their peers,2 and Delaware and other states have found that adolescent pathological gambling is associated with alcohol and drug use, truancy, low grades, problematic gambling in parents, and illegal activities to finance gambling.

A survey of 8th graders in 2002 found the following troubling connections. Those students that reported gambling were:

  • Over 50% more likely to drink alcohol
  • More than twice as likely to binge drink
  • More than three times as likely to use marijuana
  • Three times as likely to use other illegal drugs
  • Almost three times as likely to get in trouble with the police
  • Three times as likely to be involved in a gang fight
  • Almost three times as likely to steal or shoplift

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