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More Young People Are Calling Gambling Helplines

Published: April 22, 2024

As gambling becomes legal in more states around the country, experts are noticing a problem: more and more young people are calling helplines. The legal age for gambling ranges from 18 to 21, depending on the state and type of gambling activity, but these regulations can be bypassed, especially as more betting apps enter the market with varying levels of security and identification checks. 

As reported by Fox43, The Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania recently announced that just under 10 percent of calls to the problem gambling helpline in 2023 came from callers ages 18 to 24. There were also 11 callers between the ages of 13 and 17. 

In Virginia, WDBJ7 reported that the increasing popularity of gambling has led to a 979% increase in the number of calls to Virginia’s gambling hotline over the last four years. They, too, have seen a significant increase in calls for help from 18 to 25-year-olds. 

The legal betting age in Massachusetts is 21, but the Boston Globe reported that “there is growing evidence that tech-savvy youths are finding ways to circumvent the security measures and engage in a highly addictive form of rapid-fire betting on mobile apps.” There’s no question — it’s more important than ever to speak to your children about the dangers of online gambling. 

Although this evidence might be alarming, there are proactive steps you can take to help ensure your kids understand the risks and help them develop a healthy relationship with gambling as they grow older. Here are a few pointers to guide the discussion:

  • Encourage healthy spending. Talk with your child about how they plan to spend the money they have from after-school jobs or allowance.
  • Ask questions about their experiences with gambling and listen to their answers.
  • Talk to them about the consequences of gambling – depression, financial problems, lower self-esteem, lower grades, and damaged friendships. offers many helpful resources for parents and educators to learn more and start the conversation. If you or someone you know needs help, don’t hesitate to call the Problem Gambling Helpline. Trained and understanding specialists are available 24/7 to take your call, with no strings attached. Call 1-800-589-9966 or text 4HOPE to 741741.

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