Gambling and Minors

Last Updated: February 1, 2024

Reviewed by Dr Aaron Weiner

Psychologist and Addiction Specialist Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP is a licensed, board-certified psychologist and addiction specialist with experience in hospital administration, public health, and youth drug prevention.  Dr. Weiner is the President of the Society of Addiction Psychology, serves on the Science Advisory Board of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and is a member of the Physician Speakers Bureau for the National Safety Council. Note: Dr. Weiner has reviewed the informational content of this page for accuracy.  App and website... Read More

Note: Dr. Weiner has reviewed the informational content of this page for accuracy.  App and website recommendations are based solely on the opinions of the author.

Protecting Minors from Gambling

Underage gambling is illegal, with the minimum gambling age differing from one country to another or from one state to another. This is one of the several key issues casinos or gambling establishments of every kind simply must be fully prepared for.

Nowadays, casinos are held responsible for monitoring and preventing underage gambling. This is an integral part of obtaining a license and as such casinos and operators have been required to develop many systems including Know Your Customer and age verification in place. 

Know Your Customer (KYC) is used by the casino whereby it conducts checks to make sure that the player’s identity is true and also to verify that the funds used for gambling come from a legitimate source.

The casino will ask for ID verification such as an ID card, passport or driver’s license. With these documents, the casino can verify that the player is of legal age.

Why Would Minors Want to Gamble?

As the Change the Game Ohio campaign has highlighted, children who are introduced to gambling before age 18 are twice as likely to develop a problem with gambling later in life.

2 key factors have the most significant effect on underage individuals and their attitudes towards gambling.

Parents or guardians who have an unhealthy yet positive outlook on gambling are the single most impactful factor in underage gambling along with all the risks this entails. Peers of the same age or gambling age as well as any other adults near minors have also been shown to negatively affect their gambling behaviour.

Advertising across multiple verticals was also seen as a key to influencing minor’s gambling habits. Today it is likely that underage children may be exposed to gambling advertising material as often as once a week with the main sources including horse racing and sports broadcasting along with a large proportion of all television and in similar amounts, online including social media.

It was also discovered that nearly one-third of minors think that betting on sports specifically is normal and a larger proportion believe that knowing the odds is part of either following the sport or makes it more exciting.

Overall it is certain that gambling advertising in all forms of media has and continues to succeed in instilling a positive connotation for gambling, especially in minors.

Can Casinos Advertise to Minors?

Gambling sites are also forbidden from promoting material which appeals to children. For example, using child-like characters and cartoons in branding and advertisements is prohibited. 

This measure has been extended in recent months to include all influential persons both fictional and non-fictional as celebrities and sports stars in particular have been found to make an undeniable impact on the youth.

Casinos are also required to include a section related to underage gambling in their terms and conditions. Along with this, advertising regulations stretch to disallow the ability to appeal to any individual under the age of 21, even though in many EU nations the age to gamble is 18. 

Other measures have also sought further restriction as there are only a designated few hours in the day that gambling advertising is permitted on television which is also dependent on the contents of the programming being shown.

What Are the Risks of Underage Gambling?

According to the Gambling Commission (UKGC), 26 percent of 11 to 17-year-olds have spent their funds on gambling in one form or another within the past year alone. This is not only alarming because of the sheer volume of underage uptake but also due to the considerably higher rates of problem gambling displayed by 10 and 24-year-olds. 

Gambling for those who are underage is considerably dangerous and is associated with many risks which include:

  • Changes in attitude, which may affect school and lead to a lowered interest in recreational activities.

  • Behavioural changes such as more aggression and defensiveness.

  • Emotional distress in the form of signs related to anxiety/depression.

  • Noticeable increase in competitiveness, a need to win or “be right”.

  • Increased time spent online and usually in solitude.

  • Disruption of familial as well as other interpersonal relationships.

  • Amplification of existing gambling risks for adults such as substance abuse problems, criminal behaviour and financial issues.

Ways to Spot if Your Child is Gambling

It can be difficult to become aware of whether or not your child has any harmful habits including any gambling activities. Aside from taking the appropriate measures to steer your children clear of illegal gambling, it is also important to keep in mind certain behaviours that indicate an uptake in these activities.

Here are some signs that may indicate this:

  • Secrecy about gambling.

  • Changes in mood and behaviour.

  • Borrowing or stealing money.

  • Owing money to others.

  • Having betting sheets, lottery tickets, casino chips and other gambling materials.

  • Checking their phone constantly during sporting events.

  • An increased interest in sports. Not only a favourite team but scores and results from many games.

Tips for Protecting Minors from Gambling Online

Numerous harmful pitfalls exist for minors in the digital world including exposure to online gambling. There are several ways in which you can prevent minors from gambling.

  1. Do not let your children use digital devices online without supervision. As you would not allow your child to wander in public or go to a stranger's house without your supervision and oversight, parents need to be aware and actively monitor their children's activity online to ensure their safety.

  2. Don’t leave accounts logged in and avoid having passwords and payment information saved. This is very important especially if you share the devices you gamble on with underage persons.

  3. Use parental controls. This setting prevents minors from accessing inappropriate content such as gambling sites.

  4. Limit the time children spend online and if possible do not let them use the internet unsupervised.

  5. Educate and teach your children about the dangers of underage gambling.

Website-Blocking Software and Apps

You can also invest in website-blocking software and apps that will further limit access to sites for underage persons:

Cyber Patrol

Cyber patrol logoCyber Patrol has teamed up with Content Watch and NetNanny and is rated as one of the top parental control software. Once installed, Cyber Patrol can prevent minors from viewing inappropriate content and gambling sites.

Net Nanny

Netnanny logoOne of Net Nanny's features is the 18-category filter that protects minors from viewing adult content while browsing the internet. It's also possible to mask vulgar language, limit screen time and block any apps and websites so minors under your care won't be able to access them. You can also get alerts about your children's online activity.

Cyber Sitter

Cyber sitter logoApart from blocking access to adult-targeted sites, Cyber Sitter also guarantees safe searches on search engines by filtering out adult sites and gambling sites from the search results. Cyber Sitter also blocks invading trackers and malicious sites.

Qustodio

Qustodio logoCurrently, around 4 million parents and guardians use Qustodio to monitor children's searches, filter and block inappropriate sites and games, control screen time and limit access to certain games. You can also choose to be alerted when someone tries to access blocked content.

Kidlogger

Kidlogger logoWith Kidlogger's Parental Time Control app, you can block apps and monitor your children's activity on the internet. You can also track how long a minor has been using the device and with whom they communicated.

Gamblock

Gamblock logoGamblock has been around since 2000 and has helped users by automatically blocking gambling sites including those recently launched. Gamblock is used by people experiencing gambling problems and parents who wish to block all gambling sites on devices that their children use.