Keep Kids Safe From Problem Gambling During Summer Vacation Posted On

The school year is wrapping up and kids are excited. There’s so much free time!

How will your kids spend it?

This summer, make sure you’re aware of the dangers of youth gambling – and what its signs are. Days of unstructured time will allow kids to explore new activities and try new things – and they may gamble for the first time.

Studies suggest that the younger an individual begins gambling, the more likely they are to develop a problem. Unfortunately, kids can gamble in a variety of ways.

Your child or teenager might gamble with others the same age. Kids might gamble on their own games and activities, or on sports teams, TV competitions – anything where someone must pick a winner or an outcome.

Your child or teenager may find opportunities to gamble online, whether in free versions or with real money if they have access to a credit card. Even if your kid plays in simulated games without losing money, this increases the risk of problem gambling once they do have the ability to place real bets. 

Your teenager may be mistaken for being 18 years of age or older and be allowed to purchase a lottery ticket. Not all vendors check IDs (though they are legally supposed to), allowing adolescents the opportunity to spend money on scratch-offs and other lottery tickets. 

There are many more ways children, teenagers and even college students can gamble everyday.

Protect Kids From Problem Gambling

We know to protect our kids from drinking, drugs and unsafe interactions with strangers, and we teach them about those dangers when they are very young. We educate them about risks of certain behaviors and actions. We can protect our kids from gambling at a young age by taking similar steps.

Take these steps to protect your kids this summer.

  • Talk to your kids. Educate your kids about gambling, and teach them that, for some people, it can become an addiction. By talking to your kids about problem gambling, you can help them understand the warning signs of an addiction and let them know what to do if they suspect they or a friend has a problem.
  • Watch your kid’s spending. If your children receive an allowance or are given money for activities and special occasions, know where it is spent or how it is saved. Not tracking your children and teenager’s spending means you will be unaware if they use their money for gambling – and if they go into debt.
  • Monitor online activity. Kids are spending more time than ever online, and that time isn’t just spent on laptops anymore. Today, many kids have nearly constant access to the Internet through tablets and their phones, as well. Gambling opportunities and games that mimic the betting and big wins of casino-style games are available on mobile phones. These easily-accessible apps and websites may raise the risk of developing an addiction. Make sure to monitor what your kids and teenagers are doing online. Know when they’re online, how often they are online and what they are doing online.
  • Listen for changes in attitude or habits. One of the many signs of problem gambling is a change in attitude, behavior or habits. Though it’s not uncommon for children and teenagers to be argumentative, watch for signs of money problems, issues with friends or sudden decisions to hang out with new teenagers, or changes in daily routines.
  • Watch your child’s peers. If you believe that one of your children’s friends is gambling, take steps to protect your kid and their friends from the consequences of an addiction.

Taking these steps can help reduce the risk of your child gambling too soon. At any time, if you or one of your children need help with a gambling disorder, the NYS HOPEline is ready to take your call. Help is available for all ages, all summer long. To reach the NYS HOPEline, call 1-877-8-HOPENY.