Problem Gambling for Parents
Parents, talk to your teens about the risks of gambling!
Worried about your kids using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs? Most parents are, so they talk to their kids about those risk behaviors because that’s one of the things that research tells us works for prevention. However, you may not have discussed another risky behavior that more and more kids are engaging in – gambling. Unlike the eyeball rolling that a discussion of alcohol, drugs or tobacco will likely evoke, kids have not “heard it all” when it comes to gambling—in fact, they have probably heard nothing in school or elsewhere about the potential risks.
Kids are exposed to gambling every day. All they have to do is turn on the TV to see poker tournaments, or walk into a mini-mart or grocery store to see people buying lottery tickets. Even churches and schools often use gambling for fund-raising, so the gambling message is everywhere. As responsible parents you can give your kids the full story about gambling, and this brochure can help guide you in that process.
Why We Should Be Concerned About Youth Gambling
- Seventy-five percent of teens reported having gambled (Carlson & Moore, 1998)
- One in ten teens is an “at-risk” gambler (he or she may be moving toward problem gambling) (Carlson & Moore, 1998)
- One in every 25 Oregon teens (4%) is a problem/pathological gambler (Carlson & Moore, 1998)
- Almost 1/3 of teens have played the Oregon Lottery within the last year (minimum legal age to participate is 18 years old) (Carlson & Moore, 1998)
- The rates of problem gambling among youth are 2-4 times higher than the rates for adult gambling, and Oregon youth are gambling at a younger age than in the past (Carlson & Moore, 1998; Gupta & Derevensky, 1998a; Shaffer & Hall, 1996)
- Youth can hide gambling problems well—there aren’t outward physical signs (e.g., smell on the breath, slurred speech)
- Many pathological gamblers report having started gambling early—approximately age 10 (Gupta & Derevensky, 2001; Gupta & Derevensky, 1998a; Gupta & Derevensky, 1997; Wynne, Smith, & Jacobs, 1996).
Youth Problem Gambling
Teen problem gamblers have higher rates of:
- Family problems (e.g., withdrawal, behavior issues)
- Crime (theft, robbery)
- Peer relationship problems
- Legal and money troubles
- Depression; suicidal thoughts and attempts
- Dissociative, “escape” behaviors
- Risk of other addictions, (e.g. alcohol, substance abuse)
- School problems (e.g., lower grades, truancy, behavior issues)
(Gupta & Derevensky; 1998a, 1998b; Vitaro, Ferland, Jacques & Ladouceur, 1998; Wallisch & Liu, 1996; Winters & Anderson, 2000; Wynne, Smith, & Jacobs, 1996).
What are the signs of a possible gambling problem?
Some of these signs will sound very familiar—they are also “signs” of adolescence or being in the teenage years. But if they occur in an ongoing pattern, or if you have reason to be concerned about your teen’s gambling, here are some indicators to look for:
- Asking for/borrowing money from the family
- Unexplained absences from school
- Sudden drop in grades
- Unexplained debt
- Carries or possesses gambling materials, such as dice, playing cards, or other gambling materials
- Says gambling is one of the best ways to make easy money
- Borrows money from family/friends to pay gambling debts
- Neglects family/friends
- Gambles with money that is suppose to be used for something else such as lunch, bus fare, etc.
- Frequent mood swings” usually high when winning and lower when losing
- Lies to people about gambling
- Displays large amounts of cash and other material possessions
- Gambles to escape worries, frustrations, or disappointments
- Take desperate measures to get money for gambling, such as stealing from family
Youth Gambling Video
"Teen Gambling: It's A Risky Deal," is a nine-minute DVD geared toward middle school students, featuring a "Mythbusters" theme. Students will learn myths and facts about gambling, that gambling is not free of risk, how to recognize problem gambling, and how to get help. Help in Marion County is available at no cost to problem gamblers and their loved ones by calling the 24-hour gambling help line, 1.877.MY.LIMIT.
For a DVD copy contact Oregon Problem Gambling Services (email@example.com).
In Marion County, contact our office firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video Guide for Facilitators