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BigDeal
Gambling information, advice and support for young people

Parents & professionals hub

Here’s where parents and professionals – such as teachers and youth workers – can find out more about gambling. You can also get advice and support over the phone or via live chat. BigDeal is part of GamCare, operators of the National Gambling Helpline and the UK’s leading provider of information, support and counselling for problem gamblers and their families.

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Young people and gambling – the facts

Although most gambling is illegal for under 18s, the latest full Young People and Gambling Survey shows that approximately 350,000 (11%) of 11-16-year olds spent their own money gambling in the previous week – that’s more than those who smoked (6%) or took drugs (5%). More boys than girls gamble, and as many as 55,000 young people nationally can be classified as ‘problem’ gamblers using a recognised screening tool.

What do young people bet on?

The report found that the most common form of gambling among the 11-16 age group was betting with friends, but buying scratchcards and lottery tickets, playing fruit or slot machines, and gambling online also feature. Find out more about online gambling and eSports here.

Why do young people gamble?

When asked, over half said they gamble for fun, while a third do it with the intention of winning money, and another third because ‘it gives me something to do’. Others gamble to ‘get a buzz’ or because they like to take risks. One in 10 point to their parents’ or guardians’ gambling behaviour as a reason why they do it, while some young people say they gamble to boost their mood when they feel anxious or down.

Is gambling affecting my child?

Risk factors for problem gambling include a history of gambling in the family; an early big win; low self-esteem, boredom or depression; and peer pressure. If you’re worried that your child is gambling and that it could be getting out of control, these are some signs to look out for:

  • Becoming moody or restless, acting secretive, lying
  • Missing school, not completing homework, loss of interest in extracurricular activities and hobbies
  • Increased interest in money and possessions; having more (or less) cash than usual
  • More competitive than they used to be, keen to ‘be right’ about things

What can parents do?

Helping your children to understand the risks and consequences of gambling, in an open and non-judgemental way, is often more beneficial than a prescriptive ‘don’t do it’ approach. It’s also important to understand how your own attitudes to gambling can affect your children, and to realise the negative impact of problem gambling within the family.

By visiting BigDeal you are taking an important step: educating yourself about gambling will give you the understanding and confidence to initiate a conversation about it with your child. You can find out more in our factsheets below, which contain useful information, practical tips, and further resources, or call us for support and advice on our number below.

Does my gambling have a negative impact?

Occasional gambling is unlikely to affect your child, but one in 20 (6%) of 11-16 year olds in the Young People and Gambling Survey say that gambling among their family/household members has made them feel bad. When parents struggle to control their gambling, there is a negative impact on their children. Find out more about how children can be affected by a parent’s gambling problems here.

Children and gambling – the facts

Although most gambling is illegal for under 18s, the latest Young People and Gambling Survey shows that approximately 350,000 (11%) of 11-16-year olds spent their own money gambling in the previous week – that’s more than those who smoked (6%) or took drugs (5%). More boys than girls gamble, and as many as 55,000 young people nationally can be classified as experiencing harm from their gambling.

What do young people bet on?

The report found that the most common form of gambling among the 11-16 age group was betting with friends, but buying scratchcards and lottery tickets, playing fruit or slot machines, and gambling online, also feature. Find out more about online gambling and eSports here.

Why do young people gamble?

When asked, over half said they gamble for fun, while a third do it with the intention of winning money, and another third because ‘it gives me something to do’. Others gamble to ‘get a buzz’ or because they like to take risks. One in 10 point to their parents’ or guardians’ gambling behaviour as a reason why they do it, while some young people say they gamble to boost their mood when they feel anxious or down.

Do you work with children and young people?

Education is essential so that young people understand the risks of gambling and can make informed decisions about taking part; teachers, youth workers and other people working with children and teenagers play a vital role. GamCare (which runs the BigDeal website) has begun a four-year national programme with charity YGAM to prevent young people from experiencing gambling-related harm. GamCare trained 6,314 professionals to provide important education on gambling and gaming in 2020-21.

Educational workshops

As part of the programme, GamCare is delivering interactive workshops in schools and other youth settings for young people aged 11-19. In 2020-21, 7,331 young people attended a workshop with us. The workshops are also delivered online using a variety of platforms.

The workshops are focused on giving young people the knowledge to make safer choices around gambling; understanding and recognising the impacts of gambling; and knowing where and how to get help if they need it. Of the young people we saw, 93% now know how to make safe choices about gambling.

If you are a professional working with young people aged 11-19 and would like to arrange free training or a workshop for young people, please contact hello@bigdeal.org.uk or submit the form below.

Gambling awareness eLearning

GamCare has also developed an online gambling awareness course for young people aged 11-19 years old, which is free to use in schools.

This free eLearning course explores the different types of gambling activities and the law, what problem gambling looks like, how to spot the signs, and how to stay safe if you choose to gamble.

Young people need to register with GamCare before accessing the course. Parental consent is not required for children as the services being provided are preventative. The course takes a maximum of 30 minutes.

Access eLearning course

Young People Service

We have a dedicated support service tailored to the needs of young people. The Young People Service can support anyone aged 18 and under across the whole of the UK who is either at risk of, or is experiencing, harms because of gambling. This can be if they are gambling themselves, or if they are affected by someone else’s gambling. Our service is free, flexible and confidential. We offer information, advice and self-help tools tailored to each young person’s needs to ensure that every young person worried about gambling is listened to and fully supported.

If a professional working with a young person is concerned they are experiencing gambling-related harm, they can get in touch with the Young People Service for advice.