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Preventing Early Initiation of Youth Gambling

Youth problem gamblers often report placing their initial bet at an early age, typically around 10-11 years old. The greater availability and accessibility of gambling opportunities significantly contributes to youth gambling behavior (OASAS, 2022). Family and peers’ favorable attitudes for gambling increases the odds that youth will begin gambling at an early age (Botella-Guijarro, 2020). Increased exposure to gambling environments raises the likelihood of youth engaging in gambling activities. This includes family settings, online platforms, and casinos.


Many times, youth gambling harms are associated with an early “big win,” which may reinforce gambling behavior and increase the likelihood of developing gambling harms (Derevensky and Gilbeau, 2015).

Make a Difference

Make a personal decision not to gamble. Be a leader amongst your peers and choose some of the unlimited number of exciting, fulfilling activities instead. Activities such as mountain bike riding, skiing/snowboarding, weight training, reading, volunteer work, dungeons and dragons, and many others. 


Youth problem gamblers often engage in multiple types of gambling activities. Skill-based games are particularly associated with gambling harms, as they may reinforce the belief that skill can consistently lead to winning (Reilly et al., 2022).

Make a Difference

While it may be legal for young adults to gamble over the age of 18, they are still at risk. This is especially true for those who may not understand the concepts of chance, randomness, and digital algorithms associated with different types of gambling. Learn about these concepts and help educate your peers.


Family attitudes and the home environment play crucial roles in the development of gambling harms among youth1. Youth often report gambling experiences with family members, suggesting that familial exposure to gambling normalizes the behavior (Derevensky and Gilbeau, 2015).

Make a Difference

You can help prevent youth gambling by engaging in this, and any other potentially addictive activities, outside the presence of youth. Youth are always watching, and always learning. Let’s         all continue to role model healthy behavior as best as we can each day.


Specifically focusing on school staff and administrators, your activities and support plays a crucial role in preventing youth gambling. School-related harms are associated with increased gambling behavior among youth. Poor academic performance, truancy, delinquent behaviors, and conduct disorders are significant risk factors (Dowling et al., 2017). Youth with gambling harms frequently report issues such as repeating grades and exhibiting antisocial behaviors within the school setting.  

Make a Difference

Ensure youth aren’t exposed to gambling within school settings. This includes avoiding hosting casino nights and using 50/50 raffles to raise money. You can use our Alternative Fundraising guide for a host of ideas.  


If you find yourself struggling with gambling harm, or if you suspect someone you know is facing such challenges, don’t hesitate to seek help. For 24/7 support, call the NYS OASAS HOPEline at 1-877-846-7369 or text 467369. Or choose your county using our interactive map on our NYProblemGamblingHELP.org HOME PAGE to see the contact information for the Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) in your region.

Preventing Underage Gambling
Youth Gambling Data