What is Gambling?

Gambling is taking part in a game or activity where you risk losing something, usually money, to try and win a prize. It’s all down to chance and usually the odds are against you. People initially gamble for fun as it’s exciting to make money although this rarely happens!

Some adults are addicted to gambling and children and young people living with parents or carers that are affected, are likely to suffer as well. Young people are also directly at risk of developing problems with gambling. Research tells us that 2% of young people aged 12-15 develop gambling problems. That could be you or one of your friends.

Most gambling for under 18s is illegal, except for the National Lottery and slot machines with low stakes, which have a minimum age of 16.


Types of Gambling

Common examples of gambling include slot machines, lottery, scratch cards, playing card games (e.g. poker, blackjack) with friends, visiting casinos or online betting. It can start off as harmless and not often but can quickly become an obsession.


Signs that things are getting out of hand:

– a significant interest in gambling and gambling related activities, with it becoming a main leisure activity;

– stakes that continue to increase;

– problems at school or college, including loss of interest, not completing assignments or skipping school;

– changes in personality or behaviour, e.g. becoming moody or angry and people begin to comment on;

– lying about the amount spent on gambling or winnings;

– borrowing money to gamble;

– desperately trying to win back money or possessions that have been previously lost;

– being put at risk physically if gambling debts can’t be paid;

– feeling low or depressed; and

– not being able to stop or give up as it feels too hard.


If you are worried, you can take an online quiz to assess whether you might have a problem. The results won’t be shared with anyone, it’s just for your own information.


What impact does it have?

Gambling addictions, like any other addiction, can take over your life. Bad things that can happen include:

– losing money that you need to spend on other things such as lunch money, bus fares, clothing etc.

– mental ill-health including depression, loss of self-esteem, feeling of guilt

– resorting to criminal activities to fund gambling – such as theft – which could lead to a criminal record

– falling out with friends and family due to changes in behaviour and loss of trust

– not doing well at school

– failing exams that impact on a future career


Where to get support and advice:

These are specific organisations that work with young people affected by gambling.



Provides information, advice and support for anyone affected by problem gaming.  Their work encompasses education, advice, treatment and communication.  The organisation has a ‘youth hub’ in London.  You can call the GamCare Helpline free on 0808 8020 133 (08:00 to midnight)

If you need advice about how to speak to a friend who may have a gambling problem, us this leaflet that GAMCARE has created.


Provides information on what is a gambling addiction, who is most likely to be affected by gambling, what are the temptations, difficulties that may be encountered during the process of giving up gambling, and how to deal with a relapse.


Provides free and impartial money advice via web chat or via 0800 138 7777 (Monday to Friday 08:00 to 20:00 and Saturday 09:00 to 13:00).


24/7 free phone line 0800 111.



Provides several useful resources for parents, click here for a free pack on how to support young people to keep control of their money and risks of gambling