Today, you can bet online 24/7. And with social media, apps and advertising making it more accessible and attractive to young people, teenagers are at a higher risk of developing gambling problems.
For many young people it isn't about the money. It's about fun, excitement and social acceptance. And because they are so targeted by gambling advertising, betting can seem like a normal activity to them.
Tackling gambling issues with your teenager can be difficult. We can help with information about the changing nature of betting and tips and tools to help you talk to your teenager about gambling.
What to look out for
There are signs to look for if you think your teenager has a problem with betting. They may:
- seem flat or down and spend less time with friends or doing things they normally enjoy
- be obsessed with simulated gambling apps and games
- spend lots of time talking about betting
- be more moody and seem stressed out when not gambling
- have arguments at home about money and their betting
- obsess about betting or the odds more than focussing on the sport when watching a game
- lie or be secretive about their betting
- miss school or fall behind because of time spent gambling
- borrow or ask for money from family and friends
- continue to gamble to win back money they have lost.
What you can do
Talk about it
If you think your teenager has problems with gambling, talk to them about it.
Our Gambler's Help Youthline can give you advice on how to approach the conversation. Call 1800 262 376.
Make sure you choose a time to raise the subject when you can talk in private and you and your teenager are both calm. The most important thing is to be non-judgemental.
You could say you have noticed they:
- have stopped doing things they used to enjoy
- have stopped spending time with family and friends
- are spending a lot of time on gambling apps and games
- seem to focus more on the odds than on the game when watching sport
- are spending more money than usual
- are spending less time on schoolwork and getting lower grades.
Listen to what they have to say. They may be relieved to talk about it.
If they ask for help, work together on a plan to help them take back control. It could start with:
- looking at this website together
- working out ways they can focus on other important things in their life, and how they can manage their money to limit or stop their betting
- calling our Gambler's Help Youthline on 1800 262 376 to find out how to get counselling, advice and support. Your teenager could call or you could call together.
If they are defensive and don't want to talk about it, you could call our Gambler's Help Youthline on 1800 262 376 to talk about how the conversation went and what you could do next to help the situation.
Our guide What's the big deal? Talking to teens about gambling has information, tips and tools to help with the conversation.
Download the guide (PDF - 859.9 KB)
You can also read more about:
You may want to consider blocking access to gambling websites using a filter.
Two popular filters are:
You can also install internet monitoring software like:
Reputable gambling sites also offer self-exclusion programs where you can ban yourself from their site.
The Australian Government's cybersmart website has information for parents and kids about online games and staying safe online. You can also download a cybersafety help button, which is a free app that links to counselling and educational resources[SP1] .
Access to money
Consider who in your family has access to your credit or debit cards, and whether any of these cards are linked to accounts that your teenager accesses, such as accounts for downloading music.
Virtual gaming and gambling websites regularly offer purchased credits or rewards, and it's not always obvious that these purchases relate to real money.
You may want to set up alerts to come to your phone for new purchases so you can track your teenager's smartphone or tablet spending.
For more information about getting help if a teenager close to you has a gambling problem, see:
You can also call Gambler's Help on 1800 858 858 or Gambler's Help Youthline on 1800 262 376 for free, confidential, professional advice and support. These phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you would like to chat live with a counsellor online, visit Gambling Help Online. This service is also available 24/7.
Find out more about the many ways to get help.