As Online Gambling Surges, Teenagers and Young Adults are Asking for Help
Published: December 18, 2023
With sports betting now legal in over 30 US states, an increasing amount of young people might feel pressured to participate. A combination of advertisements from gambling sites, pressure from friends, and illegal access to the platforms via family members can add up to an increase in gambling among young people. Now more than ever, it’s crucial for parents, teachers, and prevention specialists to educate children and teenagers about the risks associated with gambling.
Gambling is only legal for adults (participants must be 21 or older in most states), but young people are finding ways to bypass the safeguards used, like two-factor authentication, location verification, and Social Security numbers. Once they’re logged in to a website or app, it’s easy for them to gamble away money that they’re not prepared to spend.
As online betting surges in popularity, a growing number of teenagers and young adults are reaching out for help to address problem gambling behavior. According to a 2022 study conducted by the state of Ohio, 18 to 24-year-olds had the highest percentage of at-risk or problem gambling of any other age group in the state.
What does this mean for parents, teachers, and youth?
By going to ChangeTheGameOhio.org, you can access free resources, like a printable discussion guide, to help children understand the risks associated with gambling. In a lot of cases, like this teenager who opened up about his gambling, the best thing for a parent to do is to encourage their child that whatever it is that they’re dealing with, they’re safe to share and discuss it openly.
Here are a few ways to get the conversation started:
- Explain that gambling results in losses more often than wins.
- Explain that underage gambling is illegal.
- Talk to them about the consequences of problem gambling – depression, financial problems, lower self-esteem, lower grades, and damaged friendships.
- Encourage healthy spending.
- Ask questions about their gaming activities.
An estimated 6.5 percent of 14- to 21-year-olds are considered at risk for problem gambling. By starting the conversation, we can make a difference in the lives of our children and help prevent problem gambling before it starts.
If a child or someone you know needs help, do not hesitate to call Ohio’s Problem Gambling Helpline. Calls are answered 24/7 by trained and understanding specialists who can offer free and confidential support. Call 1-800-589-9966 or text 4HOPE to 741741.