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Gambling information, advice and support for young people

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Gambling

This is where you can find out more about gambling – what it is, how it works, the risks, and what to do if you are worried about your own gambling or the gambling of someone close to you.

Harmful Gambling

Most young people will have no issues with gambling, and it will be a fun activity to enjoy with friends. However, a few people may find their gambling is becoming out of control and is affecting their everyday life.

Check out our information below to find out more about gambling problems and the harms they can cause.

in 2020:

2.7% of 11-16 year olds in England and Scotland were classified ‘at risk’ of becoming ‘problem gamblers’.

Gambling problems

Gambling is a risky activity, and it’s possible that it could quickly get out of control. A few of the things which could make this more likely to happen are:

  • Being introduced to gambling at an early age
  • Parents and/or family members who gamble
  • Pressure from your friends or peers to gamble
  • Having a big win

According to a survey from the Gambling Commission in 2020, 1.9% of 11-16 year olds in England and Scotland (young people in Wales couldn’t be contacted last year because of Coronavirus) are classified as ‘problem’ gamblers and 2.7% are classified as ‘at risk’.

Real story

S’s story

“I felt weird doing it”

“I do have a friend that seems to be very lucky with winning highly valuable skins, making lots of profit. I’ve seen other friends though, throw away money that could be much better spent on things that provide better pleasure such as hobbies.”

The warning signs in young people

Worried that you, or someone you know, may be struggling with gambling? These are some of the common warning signs:

  • Changes in behaviour (might be distracted, moody, sad, worried, anxious)
  • Becoming secretive or lying
  • Missing school, not submitting homework, dropping grades
  • Unexplained time away from home, withdrawal from friends and family
  • Less involvement with usual activities and hobbies
  • Keen interest in gambling conversations
  • Playing gambling-type games online
  • Asking for/borrowing money from family or friends
  • Unexplained debts or extra cash/possessions
  • Feeling anxious, depressed, or worried about gambling

Recognise these signs?

If you’ve noticed any of these warning signs, see our top tips for staying safe below. You can also contact our Young People Service for advice and help here.

Are you Worried

about someone you care about?

Often the person who’s gambling doesn’t think that they’re in trouble. Sometimes family and friends will spot the problem first, because the gambler might be convinced that everything is fine, when really it isn’t.

How to stay safe when gambling

If you do gamble (when and where it’s legal for you to do so), there are some top tips which can help you stay safe.

Tips for safer gambling

  • Set a money limit and stick to it
    Have a look at your finances and see how much you could spend without jeopardising other responsibilities.
  • Set a time limit and stick to it
    Decide on a time when you will leave the venue or website, to help you stick to your budget.
  • Expect to lose, and treat any winnings as a bonus
    Treat gambling just like going to a concert or going out to eat: don’t expect to get your money back at the end.
  • Have other hobbies and interests
    Make sure that you keep up with other activities, so that gambling doesn’t become your main pastime.
  • Be open and honest about your gambling
    If you find yourself struggling to be honest about what you’ve spent or how you’re spending your time, consider getting some help.
  • Understand the game, odds and house edge
    Check out our jargon buster which explains the words and phrases used in gambling – knowledge is power!
  • Only use cash
    This is a great way to stay on budget.
  • Quit when you are ahead
    Don’t assume you are on a lucky streak and keep gambling.

What could be harmful

  • Don’t gamble alone
    Having someone to look out for you is a great idea.
  • Never borrow money to gamble
    You may not be able to pay it back. And if you lend someone money, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it back.
  • Don’t develop strategies to win games
    By definition, gambling means there’s always a chance you could lose more money.
  • Never try to win back money you have lost
    This might seem like a good idea, but can be a slippery slope.
  • Don’t keep playing until you get lucky
    By then it might be too late.
  • Never believe you will win
    Confidence is key with lots of things in life, but not with gambling. It’s safer to assume you will lose.
  • Avoid gambling for a long time without a break
    Ensure you take a breather.
  • Don’t gamble as a way to cope with bad feelings
    Gambling when you’re feeling low might seem like a distraction, but might make things worse in the long run.

Want to know more about gambling?
Check out some other topics