Impacted Youth

What is Gambling?

“Gambling” (or “betting” or “gaming”) is any kind of friendly wager or bet (games played between people on who would win) as long as someone is betting something of value. Items can be cash or credit, favors like chores or acts, and anything with value such as iPods, clothes, shoes, cell phones, food, etc.

Info for Teens

Teen Gambling

Have you gambled before?

Gambling is not just about going to the casino or trying to win money. “Gambling” (or “betting”) is any kind of wager or bet where someone can lose something of value. It can be cash, credit, items (iPods, clothes, shoes, etc.), favors (chores, doing homework, etc.), dares or anything with value to the person risking it.

Youth Problem Gambling

Gambling addiction can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime.  However, certain groups of people (“populations”) are at greater risk of developing a gambling problem than others. Being a member of one of the below populations does not mean that you will develop a problem, but that you have a higher chance of developing an addiction. Conversely, even if you are not a member of the below populations, it is still possible to develop an addiction!

Frequently Asked Questions – Teens

We examine some of the questions most commonly asked by Youth.

Others Gambling?

Gambling can be great entertainment, but it can lead to serious problems. Here are some things you should know about gambling:

  • Gambling addiction is a disease which can affect anyone, but doesn’t affect everyone
  • People with a gambling problem may spend money they can’t afford to lose
  • People with gambling problems might spend excessive amounts of time gambling
  • A gambling problem can affect many parts of someone’s life, like school, work, friendships, family relationships, and/or hobbies
  • With the right information and help, young people and parents can overcome gambling problems


In this section, you will find out how to deal with it if someone close to you (a family member, friend, etc.) has a problem with gambling.

Info for Parents

Info for Parents

  • Gambling?: So what’s the big deal? If they aren’t drinking, taking drugs or smoking, then why should I worry?
  • Gambling can turn into an addiction – just like alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes, and is not a safer or better alternative. Gambling addiction can be devastating, both to the gambler and to their loved ones. Addicted gamblers are more likely to break the law, commit suicide or suffer from severe psychological disorders including depression.
  • Not everyone who gambles becomes addicted – in fact, most people don’t. But studies have shown that gambling at an early age significantly increases the risk of developing a gambling problem, both now and later in life.


According to the American Psychiatric Association, 10 to 15% of young people asked have significant gambling problems, compared to fewer than 4% of adults. And in today’s day and age, more youth than ever before are developing gambling problems.

Studies of young people over the last 10 years report that about 8% of adolescents, 12 to 17 years old, can be considered problem gamblers and,on average, problem gamblers say they began gambling at about 10 years of age. And one survey from the University of Minnesota, by Dr. Ken Winters, indicated that youth are at four times the risk of adults for developing pathological (compulsive) gambling: 6% of the teens who have tried gambling develop the most severe form of gambling addiction (pathological gambling), compared to about 1.5% of adults.

Info for Educators

Why Educate Youth?

Why Should We Educate Youth About Problem Gambling?

Educating youth about gambling can help them to avoid a lifetime as a Problem or Pathological Gambler. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), as many as 15% of young people asked have significant gambling problems, and 6% of teens who have gambled have become pathological gamblers.2

One study of more than 1,800 teenagers indicates that more than 2 out of 3 high school students have gambled, and nearly 25% of students gamble frequently. And those who gambled were between 2 and 8 times as likely to take illegal drugs (the actual rates varied by the type of drug) and 3 times as likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, binge drink, or drive drunk.3

The same study also showed that teenagers who gamble are far more likely to be “bullied,” threatened with weapons, see weapons at school or be involved in other forms of violence, and they are more likely to be the victims of theft.

More Reasons to Educate Youth

  • On average, problem gamblers say they began gambling at about 10 years of age.4
  • Childhood exposure to gambling may increase the likelihood of gambling in adulthood (Kallick-Kaufman, 1979).1
  • The age of onset for gambling has dropped so that now, throughout America, the majority of 12-year-olds have already gambled (Jacobs, 2000).
  • Studies of young people over the last 10 years report that about 8% of adolescents, 12 to 17 years old, can be considered problem gamblers. Further, approximately 15% of youths were considered to be at risk of developing problems with gambling.5