Slough Safeguarding Children Partnership

Young People and Gambling

Gambling is taking part in a game or activity where you risk losing something, usually money, in order to try and win a prize.  It is all down to chance and usually the odds are very much against you.  The reason that people gamble initially is usually for entertainment.  They then continue as it is exciting and to make money, although this rarely happens.

Types of Gambling

Common types of gambling that young people may become involved in include slot machines, lottery, scratch cards or through playing card games (e.g. poker, blackjack) with friends, visiting casinos or various forms of on-line betting.  It can start off as harmless as just a one off, such as betting of a cup final football game or buying a charity scratch card but can get out of hand and become an obsession.

What are the signs that things are getting out of hand?

Warning signs can include:

  • a significant interest in gambling and gambling related activities, with it becoming a main leisure activity;
  • stakes that continue to increase;
  • problems at school or college, including loss of interest, completing assignments or skipping attendance;
  • changes in personality or behaviour, including becoming moody, angry that people begin to comment on;
  • telling lies about the amount spent on gambling or winnings;
  • borrowing money to gamble;
  • desperately trying to win back money or possessions that have been previously lost;
  • being put at risk physically if gambling debts can't be paid;
  • feeling low or depressed; and
  • not being able to stop or give up as it feels too hard.

If you are worried, this on-line quiz will help you check whether you might have a problem.

What are the risks?

Gambling addictions, like any other addiction, can take over your life. Bad things that can happen include:

  • losing money that you need to spend on other things such as lunch money, bus fares, clothing etc.;
  • mental ill-health including depression, loss of self-esteem, feeling of guilt;
  • resorting to criminal activities to fund gambling - such as theft - which could lead to a criminal record;
  • falling out with friends and family due to changes in behaviour and loss of trust;
  • not doing well at school and college; and
  • failing exams that impact on a future career.

What support is there?

There are organisations that help young people who might have a problem with gambling:

  • GamCare provides information, advice and support for anyone affected by problem gaming. You can call the GamCare Helpline free on 0808 8020 133 (8am to midnight) or download their leaflet Gambling & Youth.
  • The Mix provides information on what is a gambling addiction, difficulties that may be encountered during the process of giving up gambling, and how to deal with a relapse.
  • The Money Advice Service provides free and impartial money advice via web chat or via 0800 138 7777 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm).
  • Childline 24/7 free phone line 0800 111.