Protecting Children from Underage Gambling: A Parent's Guide

Parental Controls

Over recent years, gambling has become more prominent in society. For many, it’s become an enjoyable and wholly responsible pastime. After all, many of you reading this will enjoy a spin of the slots or a game of blackjack in the evening.

However, its prominence in society, such as plastered across football stadiums and in adverts on television, means that it can also be problematic for many, particularly the vulnerable, including our children.

According to a report by the UK Gambling Commission, around 14% of teenagers aged 11-16 had spent their own money on gambling in the previous week, a higher percentage than alcohol, while across a 12 month period, almost 40% had admitted to gambling, which is naturally alarming for parents.

Safeguarding children from gambling is incredibly important, and there are many ways in which you can do this these days, including several tools which can ensure your loved ones are browsing safely when they’re online.

UK laws around underage gambling: What you need to know

While you’ll likely be aware of gambling laws across the UK, it’s important to re-emphasise the point that the minimum legal age for gambling across the UK is 18-years-old.

In broad terms, it is an offence for a person to invite, cause or permit a person under that age to gamble. For those aged 16 and 17-years-old, in which they are classes as a young person, they are also committing an offence if they gamble. In such instances, a fine of up to £1,000 could be given, while those found to be aiding an underage person to gamble could face up to 51 weeks in prison.

Any child under the age of 16 who is caught gambling is not committing an offence.

How gambling companies prevent underage gambling

It is a key responsibility of the gambling industry as a whole in the UK to prevent underage gambling, and both online and physical betting shops and casinos have a duty to regulate those who are playing with them.

Every gambling website regulated by the UK Gambling Commission must have:

  • Up to date policies and procedures to prevent underage gambling.
  • A warning that underage gambling is an offence.
  • A requirement for customers to confirm they are legally old enough to gamble upon registration.

During the registration process, players will be required to verify that they are of legal gambling age. This is done in a variety of ways, including:

This makes the process of signing up as watertight as possible, ensuring young people and children are not able to gamble online.

Tools for parents to prevent underage gambling

For parents, peace of mind is important and there are a range of tools that can be used to ensure that their children are not remotely coming close to using gambling sites online.

Among the top tools that can be used include:

Gambling blocker software

Blocking software is the most common way to take control of what your child can use online, and there are several tools out there that are specific to gambling. Among the best of these are:


This is a free tool that is designed to help individuals with gambling problems. However, it can also be an excellent option for limiting a child’s access to gambling websites. It can block over 78,000 gambling websites and for how long they should be blocked for.

It takes just a few minutes to set up and runs quietly in the background of a device. It’s available for computers and laptops, as well as Android and iOS devices, meaning you can add it to their smartphones, tablets and more.

You can discover more about BetBlocker here.


Gamban does require a subscription and is more tailored towards people looking to give up gambling, but it does provide the blocker parents require, and as with BetBlocker, you can install it across all major device platforms. The blacklist is continually updated, and it’s certainly comprehensive. However, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t block loot boxes, which have, of course, been problematic in their own right for children and parents.

Pricing starts at £2.49 per month, and you can find out more information by clicking here.


Created as a tool specifically for underage gambling, GamBlock is commonly used in schools and workplaces, but it can also be added to home computers, smartphones and tablets. It’s incredibly effective at blocking access to gambling sites, and there are a host of different price packages that can be used for individual devices or multiple within a home.

You can find all that GamBlock offers and the various price points here.

General blocker Software

There are also a wealth of generic blockers on the market that will include gambling blocking, but on a slightly less comprehensive scale. However, this blocking software will also prevent access to the likes of adult content, social media and more.

There are a much larger number of these tools, with two of the best rated being as follows:


You can regulate gambling sites, alongside a host of other website categories through Qustodio, all of which can be managed through a dashboard from your own device. You can control both website and app usage for your children, while also setting time limits, although this is not as relevant to preventing your child from accessing casinos and betting sites.

The basic package includes web filtering and is priced at £39.95 per year, while the premium package costs £69.95 per year but allows you to install it on unlimited devices. Discover more by clicking here.

Symantic Norton Family

Considered the top pick for parental controls, Norton Family is priced at £14.99 per year and again blocks gambling websites alongside a host of other content, as well as being able to track the browsing of your child.

What’s more, you can view their search terms, meaning even if gambling sites are blocked you can still see if they are trying to access that type of content. You can subscribe to Norton here.

Block gambling transactions with banks

Most major banks will now offer the ability to limit spending on certain transactions these days, including gambling. One useful method can also be cutting off the spending on gambling at source.

Each bank offers a different service, so it’s worth contacting your child’s bank directly to understand what they can do for you, but the following all have card locking and blocking tools as part of their offering:

  • Bank of Scotland
  • Barclays
  • Halifax
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds Bank
  • MBNA
  • Monzo
  • NatWest
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Santander
  • Starling

Control gambling related content across social media

While young people shouldn’t be targeted with adverts around gambling across social media, you can control all gambling related content across social media platforms.

This largely involves unfollowing, muting and blocking accounts that provide gambling content. It’s a rather manual task, but one that can be considered if your child is spending periods on social media. This is especially the case when it comes to sports betting content. To block any gambling content from being received via mailing lists or registering casino accounts, you can use GamStop.

Top Tips for Preventing Underage Gambling

Of course, it’s perhaps impossible these days to prevent your child from spending time on the internet, so restricting them from casinos and betting content using the responsible gambling tools above is one of the best ways to ensure they are safe and not at risk from underage gambling.

However, there are other methods in which you can further empower children to steer clear of gambling activity while they are underage.

Recognise the signs

It may be that you begin to spot signs that your child may be gambling, which requires immediate action. Look for signs such as talking about gambling, particularly on a more consistent basis. Talk of placing bets on meaningless activities can also be a sign that perhaps a talk is required.

Other things, such as being glued to their phone, showing interest in gambling, and even things like changes in sleeping patterns and mood swings, can all add up to potential problems with gambling, and may require immediate help to recover. However, it’s important to remember that they could also be signs of other issues.

Educate and inform your children about gambling

Firstly, if your children are discussing gambling or talking more frequently about betting, inform and educate them on the risks of gambling. It’s a talk we have with our children on sex, drugs and alcohol, but less often, gambling. Be frank with them about gambling, discussing how it can lead to addiction and financial problems while also being honest about when they are old enough, it can be a pastime that can be undertaken responsibly.

Discuss the legalities of underage gambling, especially for those aged 16 and 17, which could get them into significant trouble. You can also present them with the problems associated with gambling addiction and how hard it can be to get back on track.

Set an example

It may be that you enjoy a game of blackjack or a spin of the slots each evening, but setting an example and precedent for your children can be hugely influential. If you do like to gamble, be conscious about doing it in front of your children.

By exposing gambling to children, you are effectively normalising it, which could encourage and influence them to try and gamble underage. Keeping it out of sight can prove a preventative measure.