Parents (and educators) will list drugs, alcohol, bullying, sex,
and grades among their concerns for their children. The list
is incomplete if it does not include gambling. Could your
child have a gambling problem or the beginnings of one? We know
that many children are introduced to gambling at a young age,
often innocently, since the adults in their lives have no
knowledge of the potential consequences.
Gambling may be part of their parents' social lives or vacations,
or perhaps members of the family gamble on sports, play poker,
buy lottery tickets or "scratch offs", go to racetracks or
casinos, or gamble on the internet. Children receive the message
that gambling is great fun and if you are lucky or good at it,
you can make lots of money gambling.
Even if there are none of these activities in the home, our
children receive this message through a variety of media. Even
seemingly harmless internet games introduce children to the
"fun", "challenging", and "winning" experiences of gambling.
Gambling is easily accessible on computers, tablets, and
mobile phones in formats that many adults are not even
Some children may be unaffected by all of this. It is very
difficult to know in advance which ones may be affected. When
the invisible line is crossed from social gambling to problem
or addictive (compulsive) gambling, it is a life altering change
for the gambler and loved ones. Compulsive gambling is not
just about the money won or lost, but also about the drastic
changes in behavior and the growing unmanageability of everyday
Our experience with our own compulsive gamblers has taught us that
compulsive gambling can begin at any age. Many of our
gamblers, men and women, began gambling in childhood. Based on
our experience and the numbers of parents of teens and young
adults joining our meetings, we believe that gambling has a place
among the list of parents' concerns.
If you think your child may have a gambling problem, you are
welcome to come to a Gam-Anon meeting. The Gam-Anon members,
including parents, will share their experience with you.
Gam-Anon is a fellowship of those affected by someone else's
gambling problem whether or not the gambler acknowledges the
What are the signs that your child may have a problem with
1. Are you concerned about the amount of time your child spends on
the computer, on
mobile devices, watching sports, playing cards, etc., or how often
distract from family activities, sleep?
2. Are you uncomfortable with your child's friends or their
3. Are you aware of bets your child is making with friends or
4. Has your child lost interest in activities he or she once
5. Have your child's grades slipped or does your child miss school
6. Does your child work but never seem to have money?
7. Does your child have more money or unexplained money, or does
your child spend
money beyond his/her apparent means?
8. Have you experienced money or items missing from your home? Do
your child might be stealing?
9. Has your child asked to borrow large amounts of money?
10. Do you find yourself rescuing your child from financial crises
resulting from gambling?
11. Does your child have an intense reaction during sporting
events when one team is
either losing or winning?
12. Does your child promise to never gamble again - and then
13. Have you noticed changes in your child's personality,
including mood swings?
14. Has your child become secretive?
15. Does your child lie about money or about gambling
- Gam-Anon International Service Office, Inc.
© Copyright Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling
WCPG For Teens
The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling provides resources,
public awareness, and education on gambling disorders while
maintaining strict neutrality on the issue of legalized