According to the American Psychiatric Association, 10–15% of young people asked have significant gambling problems; 6% of the teens who have tried gambling have become pathological gamblers.

Reasons Adolescents May Gamble

  • Escape problems
  • Loneliness, depression or boredom
  • Peer pressure
  • Think it is a quick way to get rich
  • To impress others
  • To be the center of attention
  • Think of it as a way to make friends
  • Winning provides an instant, temporary boost of confidence

Possible Adolescent Indicators

  • Unexplained absences from school
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Changes in personality (irritability, impatience, criticism, or sarcasm)
  • Large amounts of money in their possession; bragging about gambling wins
  • Shows an unusual interest in newspapers, magazine or periodicals having to do with sports, horse racing, etc.
  • Intense interest in gambling conversations
  • Exaggerated display of money or other material possessions (car, clothes, jewelry)
  • Change in behavior (behavior problems, tardiness or absences at school)
  • Gambling language in their conversation (5-timer, bookie, loan shark, point spread, underdog, favorite, etc.)
  • Exaggerated use of the word “bet” in their vocabulary
  • Illegal acts to pay or gamble more, including: stealing or shoplifting, selling drugs or bookmaking, embezzling or employer theft, family theft

If you are concerned about a teen or a young adult experiencing problems related to gambling, call our helpline at 800-848-1880, or 1-800-GAMBLER, for more information and resources.