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New Report Shows Link Between Gambling Harms and Children

Published: September 18, 2023

September is Responsible Gaming Education Month, a time of year set aside to promote responsible gambling or betting. To acknowledge this important initiative, Change the Game Ohio is examining the link between youth and gambling or betting while also providing tips on how to talk with the children in your life about their behaviors. 

According to a recent GambleAware study of 18,000 people, 64 percent of adults facing a problem with gambling knew somebody who engaged in the activity when they were a child. 

In addition, the study found that six percent of people said they were exposed to betting or gambling before age five, while 28 percent said it happened between six and 11 years old. Additionally, 22 percent of people surveyed had gambled before the age of 18, with 16 percent starting between 12 and 17.

The results of this study show a clear link between youth exposure to gambling and a problem later in life. You might think this doesn’t apply to your child because you’ve never seen them gamble or talk about gambling. But the reality is there are plenty of activities out there that mimic or promote gambling, often hiding in plain sight. 

Gambling activity among youth can include the following:

  • Participating in fantasy sports betting after seeing their parents or elders participate in work or neighborhood leagues. Some kids also feel it’s easier to fit in when they make bets on school sports and events.
  • Excessive interest and participation in video games and apps. These can replicate real-life gambling activities that could lead to lifelong issues for the young people exposed to them.
  • Receiving lottery tickets and scratch-offs as gifts for holidays or birthdays. This can increase the risk of developing a problem with gambling later in life.
  • Taking on dares and viral challenges on social media. They are more willing to take on challenges for the thrill, credibility, social status, or to feel like they belong.
  • When buying trading card decks for kids, there is a chance of getting rarer cards. These valuable cards are sometimes used as a wager in strategy card games.
  • Friendly card games with peers can further introduce young people to gambling behaviors. Some kids wager money, valuable items, and food.

If you recognize some or all of these behaviors from the child in your life, it’s important to talk to them about it. If you need some pointers on how to get the conversation started, you can download our parent discussion guide. Change the Game Ohio also provides many additional resources for parents and educators, from fact sheets and slideshow presentations to student worksheets and school policy ideas. 

By reviewing Change the Game Ohio resources and talking with the children in your life about the risks of gambling, you can take an active role in preventing youth gambling in Ohio.

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