Underage Gambling: Saviour or Sin

Full House Children Gambling
Gambling has plenty of studies going on and a few center around underage gambling. We will look at the results and get a hold of the issue. 

It is shown that roughly a quarter of now adult gamblers placed their first bets when under age. Another stat; 15% of 16 and 17 year olds have made bets whether privately within their family or managed to place a bet ‘properly’. In this same group some have made bets on Keno, horse racing scratchcards and the like. The age limit is 18 and so all these bets are illegal. Gamble Aware have data in their studies which suggests the likelihood of an underage gambler starting is strongly linked to the betting of their parents. So just seeing a parent gambling or placing a bet can legitimise it in the mind of the child. The other interesting link was in social media use, mobile gaming and learning to enjoy the small quick dopamine hit from ‘gamification’ from these types of games. Players who spent more time on these activities were more likely to make an underage bet. 

Stats on Underage Gambling - trending upwards 

The concept of gambling is all around young people, even more with gamification on mobiles- think in game rewards and currencies. But think about amusement arcades, the 2p machines, soft toy grabbers all introduce risking money for reward. TV commercials when parents watch the football match almost exclusively are for big brand gambling and betting.

It’s trending upwards and online casinos and parents need to work harder and to educate in early stage minds. Smart devices are being used more and more by younger kids and the advertising is less controlled and the gamification embedded as an idea. 

Some more research stats: 

Almost 40% of 11-16 year olds have bet using their own money. How have they managed to do this? Worth investigating how creative kids are doing it! 6% used a parents account so make sure you are careful if you give a child your phone. Make sure you don’t leave yourself logged in. 60% think their parents wouldn’t want them to gamble. Some parents allow their kids to gamble shockingly- albeit with rules 19% said. 

Gambling is a fun pastime for many. But it should never be an activity for young adults. Jurisdictions have different ages and penalties for underage gambling but the goal remains the same. A deterrent for the activity in those too young. Young adults don’t have the right decision making skills to be able to gamble responsibly. They certainly don’t have the mental agility to deal with gambling addiction- in fact some adults still get caught out with it. 

As children may gamble they may be blissfully ignorant of the negatives but the law will hit them with impunity. Sympathy may or may not be existing in the matter. The better gambling brands take great care to eradicate underage gambling from taking place on their websites.

Consequences- What Can Happen? 

A young minors mind is not ready to think correctly in a gambling scenario. They are more likely to act with irrationality and with great impulse. An adult uses more logic and less emotion. Children also can be misled by peers and pressured. 

When someone begins to gamble at 12 it is far more likely to lead to an addiction. This leads to an increase in other negative traits such as a propensity to crime. Depression can occur and of course poor academic results will follow. Under What Age Is It Illegal to Gamble? When a country allows gambling it sets out it’s laws and decides on what age it is legal. There is a general minimum of 18+ that most countries abide by. Interestingly the UK allows playing the national Lottery at 16 as a separate option otherwise the 18+ is the rule. 

Some countries have higher limits such as Greece,Spain,Germany, Russia and some states in the USA with a limit of 21+ 

If a minor is subject to the law through being caught gambling underage then the usual manner of punishments are applicable largely depending on the country of the offence. The jurisdiction would usually be where they were physically for online gaming offences. Fines, Probation or ultimately some actual time in Prison is possible. The offences will also appear on the criminal record of the minor. 

Parents that allow children or young adults to gamble below the age limit are also at risk of breaking the law. It is most likely they will be dealt with at the full severity. 

Ways to Prevent Your Child From Gambling 

If you gamble as an adult you must take extra care. Your children are far more likely to gamble. As an adult would you want your child to be gambling? Not just a shock of getting a credit card bill; kids have been known to copy and submit card details online! But try to teach them it is just for adults and tell them why and also make sure you tell them it’s illegal and as a parent you can’t block the law from them. 

There are apps which can restrict any user from accessing gambling websites. One such example is ​​BetBlocker another Gamstop

It’s never too early to educate, the gamification of games is already targeting your kids so you need to act. Rewards which can build up for performing tasks then spent on items that enhance the gameplay keep kids on that game as they become invested! It is giving a mind an early skewed idea of value among other issues. So talk and educate your children on the value of REAL money and how it is different and why gambling is not for children. For some reason these games also have a lot of ads for gambling on them. And minors can easily click and find some unscrupulous gambling site that can look much like a mobile game. A child could pay through a service like PayPal if you are logged in and there it has started and a law was broken. 

Never save your card details on your phone or make it so that you must authenticate through a print or face if you insist. 

Check your browser history to see what your kids have been watching. Report any videos that target minors that are not for minors. 

There are many common sense actions you can take to help protect your child from gambling underage. Often just telling them not to can be enough. No one knows your child better than you and know that it’s also on you. Take responsibility for this important matter.

My Personal Underage Gambling Story:

Back in the 1970s my parents had a very liberal view about childhood gambling. They encouraged it. I must admit, my brother and I loved going to the arcade playing the 2p machines. They even had a couple of those retro slot machines: India Head, decked out in chrome and shuddered as the reels come to a halt. I remember those fondly. The classic one-armed bandit. It was all the fun of the fair. 

Whether we should have been playing the slot machines or not didn't come into question. We simply enjoyed playing win or lose. I guess it would give my parents and hour or two of peace and quiet and money well spent. 

There is little doubt gambling can be a problem for all and even I appreciate that young children need to be protected. You don't want to instill a love of gambling from an early age although, for me and my brother, it may have been our saviour rather than a sin. Why? Because playing slot machines as a child made me appreciate you couldn't win. They were fun and when you lost a little bit of change it was time to do something else. These days, as an adult, I find slot machines as boring as sin. They have no entertainment value and I just watch others play and wonder if they played fruit machines or slot machines or gambled as a child. It may be illegal or wrong to even imagine how these things affect the child mind and whether they lead to problem gambling as an adult. For me, they actually helped me learn something valuable rather than be the next victim. 

I guess the answer to any question whether adult or child is learning from experience.

That can lead to positive decisions.
Would you let your children gamble?   

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