Online Gambling a Hazard for the Young

This archived article is from July 2006. Although every effort has been made to make sure the information presented is accurate, please note that it may contain information that is out-of-date.

Research shows that increasing numbers of children and youth are introduced to gambling at very young ages — perhaps something as innocuous as a bingo card in their Christmas stocking — and this is having an impact on families. Children as young as 11 get hooked on betting at Internet sites where “visitors” can play slot machines and blackjack without using real money. When young people gamble beyond their limits, the outcomes can be serious — fraud, theft and even suicide. This does not take into account the social costs of spending hours and hours online alone.

In June 2006, the Vanier Institute of the Family released a paper entitled Gambling with our (Kids’) Futures: Gambling as a Family Policy Issue. The paper, authored by Arlene Moscovitch, recommends five key strategies:

  • A public education campaign to help people understand the potential hazards of gambling, especially for young people, and know the warning signs.
  • Governments need to develop guidelines for responsible advertising, especially to vulnerable groups.
  • Development of school curricula with a gambling prevention focus.
  • Additional research on gambling is required to inform public policy.
  • Bringing the issues forward through civic action to drive the impetus for change, since governments “do not want to have to face an angry public on these matters.”

According to the Vanier Institute of the Family, like smoking, drugs and alcohol, talking to your children about gambling needs to become a part of good parenting. The full report Gambling with our (Kids’) Futures can be downloaded from the Institute’s website.