Gambling means risking money or a valuable object in a game, contest or activity where the end result depends on chance. Gambling can take many forms, such as:
Lotteries (Lotto 6/49, Lotto Super 7)
Instant lotteries (scratch cards)
Playing card games such as poker or blackjack.
Private sports betting/sports lotteries
Video lottery terminals
Most Canadian teens say they have gambled at least once, either at home or at school. So it’s important for parents to know when and how gambling can become a problem, and to be alert to their children’s habits.
Are there gambling laws in Canada?
Gambling in Canada is regulated by provincial and territorial governments. The legal gambling age ranges from 18 to 19, depending on the type of activity and the province/territory. Gambling activities that are organized by teens are not subject to laws.
Do children and teens gamble?
Children often start gambling with family members—buying lottery tickets, playing cards or bingo for money, or getting lottery or scratch tickets as presents.
Underage gambling is common in Canada and can start in children as young as 9 or 10 years.
As they get older, teens usually gamble more with their friends and classmates.
Gambling problems are most common among boys.
When is gambling a problem?
Gambling becomes a problem when a person:
frequently spends more money than they meant to.
plays for longer periods of time than planned.
gambles instead of taking care of other responsibilities.
can’t stop thinking about gambling.
has difficulty cutting down or stopping their gambling.
What are the signs that my teen might have a gambling problem?
If you are concerned that your teen is gambling, be alert for:
Physical changes: trouble sleeping, being tired or run down, eating less or more, and problems focusing on or remembering things.
Problems at school: falling grades, attendance or behaviour.
Troubles in relationships with family or friends.
Money problems or missing possessions, frequent job changes, asking to borrow money from family or friends, or a sudden increase in spending money.
Substance abuse issues: alcohol consumption or using drugs.
How can I protect my teen from a gambling problem?
Be involved. Talk with and listen to your teen about what they do with their friends, and the places they go.
Set clear rules and consequences for your teen’s behaviour and stick to them.
Limit or eliminate gambling activities at home and replace them with other family activities.
Explain the risks of gambling activities to your teen.
Lead by example. Your teen will learn from your gambling habits. If you talk about responsible gambling habits, such as playing with moderation and setting limits, your teen will be more likely to act responsibly towards gambling.
Keep computers in common areas so you can monitor how they are being used.
Where can I go for help?
Talk to your health professional. Many communities also have gambling hotlines and support programs and resources to help you get informed and seek help for your teen.