Gambling comes in many forms and most families indulge in it every so often. It can be laying a bet on horse races, buying lottery tickets, visiting a casino or playing poker online. If the parents happen to win a large amount, it may give a teenager the idea that it is an easy way to make money.
Why Teenagers Start Gambling
Teens often imitate family members who gamble and seem to enjoy it. This alone should be enough to discourage parents from gambling. Winning money through gambling causes the release of endorphins and the resulting high can pave the way to addiction. Males are more likely to gamble as teenagers and if they have a big win, they are likely to persist with gambling. Teenage gamblers often fall into the lower socioeconomic groups and may lack support at home.
Signs of Problem Gambling in Teenagers
Gambling often starts off in small ways and teens may progress to a place where they have a gambling addiction without their parents noticing. Here are some of the common signs that someone has a gambling problem and is in need of help:
• The teen is always short of money, or money disappears from parent’s wallets or drawers. Some may resort to shoplifting and selling goods to get some cash.
• Betting slips or lottery tickets may be hidden in pockets or bedrooms.
• An undue interest in and knowledge about horse racing events, gambling stakes or results of big games on TV.
• Spending hours on the computer with bedroom doors locked. The browsing history may be cleared to erase all traces of online gambling.
• Fake IDs are sometimes used to enable a teen to buy lottery tickets or enter casinos while underage.
Finding Help for Teenager Gamblers
Teenage gambling should not be encouraged under any circumstances. If older family members gamble, ask them to keep it out of the home. Point out the dangers of gambling to teenagers and discuss it in a calm rational manner with them. Here are some suggestions of how to help a teen who has a gambling problem:
• Sit down with the teenage and draw up a budget of how much money they earn and how much they are wasting on gambling. Point out what they could have bought with the lost money.
• Discuss the gambling in a calm manner without shouting and uttering threats. A teen is more likely to listen to reason if it is presented in a calm way.
• Reaffirm love for the teen while rejecting their gambling habit.
• Gamblers Anonymous operates in many countries throughout the world and can be a source of support for teenage gamblers and their parents.
Teenage gambling can be a serious problem that leads to lifetime issues. Wise parents will stop gambling themselves and do everything in their power to reverse gambling behavior in their teen before he or she becomes too involved with it.
You Want to do What , Karen Sullivan, HarperCollins Publishers, 2007