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Youth Gambling Prevention & Awareness

In Connecticut, 21 is the legal age for casino gambling. (Other forms of gambling—such as high-stakes bingo, lottery tickets, keno, and off-track betting—have a minimum age of 18.) Because the brain continues developing until the mid-20s, underage gambling qualifies as high risk, with increased potential for developing a disorder or addiction. The minimum age law aims to avoid these issues by increasing the age at which people begin gambling.

Young people are more likely to experience the addictive effects of gambling

  1. 2-7% of youth experience a gambling disorder, compared with 1% of adults
  2. Another 10% of youth experience problems related to their gambling
  3. Problem gambling rates are the highest during the adolescent and teen years
  4. The earlier a person is introduced to gambling, the more likely they are to become problem gamblers as adults

Young people who gamble are more likely to experience social problems

  1. A gambling disorder can cause secretive, defensive, or overly competitive behavior
  2. They may begin lying to cover their gambling and/or their losses
  3. These new behaviors, as well as time spent gambling, can jeopardize close relationships with friends and family members

A gambling disorder can interfere with performance in school, sports, and extracurricular activities, causing:

  1. Distraction from studies
  2. Lower grades
  3. More absences
  4. Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities

Youth who gamble may get into financial or legal trouble

  1. They may risk—and lose—money meant for lunch, field trips, and other necessary expenses
  2. Losses may drive them to steal money or goods from loved ones
  3. They are 4x more likely to get into trouble with the police

Gambling can be damaging to mental health

  1. Youth who gamble are more likely to experience depression
  2. They may also have feelings of stress, guilt, and anxiety
  3. One in five people with a gambling problem attempts suicide—a rate higher than for any other addictive disorder

Youth who gamble are:

  1. 2x more likely to use illegal drugs
  2. 3x more likely to smoke cigarettes
  3. 3x more likely to drink alcohol
  4. 3x more likely to be in a gang fight

For Parents

Talking with Your Child About Gambling

Parents are the biggest influence in their children’s lives, which is why it’s so important to have frequent discussions about the risks of gambling as well as your own expectations. Handle this topic just as you would alcohol or drugs—even if you don’t think it could happen to your child, the risk of developing a gambling disorder is real.

  1. Keep an open door, and an open mind. Foster a strong relationship and healthy communication with your child. They’ll be more likely to talk to you—and more likely to listen.
  2. See it from their point of view. Young people don’t have to go to the casino to gamble— opportunities to place bets are all around them, from sports to card games to video games. These small or friendly bets may at first seem harmless.
  3. State the facts. Teach your child about the short-term and long-term risks of gambling and betting. Show them just how low the odds of winning truly are, and what they could do with the money saved by not betting at all.
  4. Set the rules. Set clear, specific rules about—and consequences for—gambling. Ensure that your rules are enforceable: a lack of consistency sends mixed messages to your child.
  5. Keep checking in. Open, ongoing conversation is a reminder that your child has a caring person they can turn to with questions or if problems arise.


Learn More About Underage Gambling

Resources for Quitting

If you or someone you love is struggling with gambling, help is available.

Here’s where to start in Connecticut: