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Exposure to Sports Betting On Social Media Poses Risks for Minors

Published: March 11, 2024

Do you know how old you must be to bet on sports? The age limit varies by state, but in Ohio, you must be 21 years old. The number of minors illegally participating in gambling has grown over the past few years. Experts are concerned that a combination of exposure to online gambling through social media posts and advertisements and lax restrictions for some online gambling platforms are leading to more minors betting on sports. 

The NCAA March Madness tournament is fast approaching, and the event is sure to draw a lot of attention from sports bettors of all ages. With all this in mind, now is a great time to have a conversation with your kids about the risks of betting on sports.

A Rise in Popularity

Over the past five years, sports betting has become incredibly popular in the United States. A recent article published by the Daily Independent shared that “sports bettors legally wagered $310 million in June of 2018 while that number hit $7 billion in October 2021.” This increased cash flow has led to bigger advertising campaigns from betting companies on both traditional and social media platforms. 

Exposure Through Advertising

While there are age restrictions for all forms of gambling, there’s no way to prevent children from seeing advertisements from gambling platforms, especially on social media. The ads often contain enticing incentives for first-time bettors and hype up the potential for a small bet to turn into a big win. 

According to the reporter Ryan Bunnel, marketing from sports betting platforms has become so prevalent that “consuming sports without at least a hint of gambling-related content is seemingly impossible these days.” 

In addition to the rise in advertisements, there are now content creators who are focused solely on sharing their sports betting experiences with their followers on TikTok and YouTube. It’s safe to assume that children and teenagers are being exposed to sports betting and gambling more than ever through social media, television, and other outlets. But parents, guardians, and educators can still help prevent youth gambling despite numerous new influences.

With March being Problem Gambling Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to have a discussion with the children in your life about the risks of youth gambling. It’s important to know that: 

  • The earlier a child is introduced to gambling, the more likely they are to develop a gambling disorder as an adult.
  • In a 2024 survey of 7th – 12th grade students in Wood County, OH, 11.3 percent reported that they gambled on sports. 
  • Many of the video games children play include coins, gems, loot boxes, and skins that replicate real-life gambling situations. 

You can visit to learn more about the issues and find valuable resources to start the conversation. If you plan on filling out a bracket or watching March Madness basketball with your family, make sure to discuss the harms of sports betting with your children.

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