Underage Gambling

Underage Gambling

Underage Gambling is defined as the use of gaming and betting services by minors. In most countries, underage gaming is prohibited, with 18 years of age being the most common minimum gambling age. Underage gambling is a pressing issue with long-term effects for young British individuals, their families and society.

Learn how to notice the signs and protect your children from the dangers of this behaviour!

What Is the Most Dangerous Aftermath of Underage Gambling?

Underage betting encourages the youth to engage in reckless and irresponsible behaviour and inhibits the ability to assess risks and consequences properly (Elever, 2023). With the widespread availability of online platforms and the glamorisation of gambling in popular culture, it is more important than ever to address the risks and take proactive measures to prevent underage individuals from engaging in gambling activities.

Children who gambled indicated that they were introduced to gambling through the marketing and advertising of gaming products (and in particular sports betting) (Hannah Pitt, Samantha L. Thomas, Amy Bestman, Mike Daube and Jeffrey Derevensky, 2017).

Underage gamblers have also been introduced to a feeling of gambling through some of the children’s games that they play on smartphones, television and computers. These children’s games produce the same pleasure chemicals in the brain that are produced by placing a bet or wagering. If your child plays video games, they may be gambling without realizing it (Jason W. Osborne, 2023).

Why Are Preventative Measures Failing?

Even though many countries prohibit underage gambling, studies have shown that the number of underage online gamblers and lotto players is increasing year by year. Technology has been noted as one of the elements that expose underage individuals to gambling advertisements. Furthermore, Underage individuals do not have a sound judgement that can help them gamble responsibly.

A study showed that older children (approximately 11- to 16-year-olds) are more reflective about consumer decisions and can build upon the information to which they have previously been exposed but are also influenced by the opinions of others to make more informed consumer decisions (John, 1999).

Understanding the Risks of Underage Gambling

Underage gambling increases the chance of youngsters succumbing to other risk-taking activities or suffering from psychological and behavioural issues (Elever, 2023).  At one point, they lose interest in school, family, and friends, sinking deeper into the void.

Underage gambling can lead to a range of negative outcomes, including brain developmental challenges, educational problems, addiction, and mental health issues and in other countries, underage gamblers can find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Young people are particularly vulnerable to the allure of this action, as they may lack the maturity and experience to make informed decisions about risk-taking and money management.

Furthermore, early exposure to gambling can increase the likelihood of developing a lifelong problem, which can have devastating effects on individuals and their families. Below are some of the harmful effects of underage gambling.

Effects of underage gambling on the individual’s brain

The signs of underage gambling addiction include depression, sleeping problems, suicidal thoughts, uncontrollable anger, stress, etc. (Elever, 2023). Underage individuals enjoy experimenting with various activities, and they end up experimenting with gambling. However, gambling can cause devastating consequences on the brain development of an underage person. Underage individuals who gamble or develop problems experience the following:

  • Unable to focus on education and other responsibilities in their lives
  • Unable to control their impulses
  • Disruptive and dysfunctional personalities
  • Defensiveness and aggressiveness
  • Poor decision-making

Effects of gambling on underage individual’s education

Underage students who gamble or have developed a gambling problem have shown signs of struggling with their education. They reported that they have a behavioural pattern of.

  • Missing their classes
  • Struggle to pass their grades
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Bad relationship with their peers or educators
  • Unable to control the finances that come their way

According to Chinawa AT, Ossai EN, Odinka PC, Nduaguba OC, Odinka JI, Aronu AE, Chinawa JM, (2023), underage gambling effects include bankruptcy, school drop-out, the use and abuse of substances, depression, para-suicide, and suicide. If their problematic behaviour is not resolved at an early age, their future relationships and careers are in jeopardy.

How gambling addiction impacts underage individuals’ lives

Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs or alcohol can, leading to addiction (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2024). The same brain reward system that is stimulated by drugs or alcohol can also be stimulated by placing a bet or winning it. When an underage gambler plays a bet or is winning in gambling, his/her brain stimulates a feel-good chemical called dopamine.

The same dopamine is the one that is stimulated when one is intoxicated, drunk or high. Continuous gambling behaviour causes the brain to get used to dopamine, which makes that winning feeling difficult to achieve. Consequently, underage gamblers may have to gamble more and more to feel the same level of pleasure.

Underage gamblers enjoy the stimulation of dopamine in their brain, and to keep on stimulating it, they will.

  • Continue to gamble.
  • Gamble with an increased amount of money.
  • Unable to control gambling behaviour.
  • Lie about their actions.
  • Gamble with money that does not belong to them.

And that is how gambling addiction develops. This addiction development in underage individuals puts them at high risk of developing other forms of behavioural and substance addiction. It’s extremely important to know where and how to reach out for professional help from organisations that specialise in helping individuals addicted to gambling.

Mental health problems tied to underage gambling

According to Wilber MK and Potenza MN (2006), underage gambling can cause poor functioning in other areas, including medical, psychiatric, and/or substance use disorders and family/social problems. Mental health problems that had been influenced by or influenced underage gambling behaviour include.

  • Substance Abuse Disorder is a treatable mental disorder that affects a person’s brain and behaviour, leading to their inability to control their use of substances like legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications.
  • Major Depression is a common mental disorder that involves a depressed mood or loss of pleasure or interest in activities for long periods of time.
  • Bipolar Mood Disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression) is a mental illness that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, activity levels, and concentration. These shifts can make it difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is Excessive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviours (compulsions).
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it.

Other underage individuals develop these psychological conditions triggered by their gambling behaviour, or these psychological disorders can influence underage individuals to gamble, trying to escape the uncomfortable experiences that come with these psychological disorders.

Consequences of underage gambling from the side of the law

Different countries deal differently with underage gambling. For example, In some states in the USA, underage individuals who are caught gambling by police will have to stand trial in a court of law. They can face different sentences, such as:

  • Paying a fine from £500 to £1000
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Jail time
  • Underaged gamblers’ parents or guardians are also charged with negligent behaviour

Underage Gambling Prevention Strategies

Preventing underage gambling requires a collaborative approach that involves parents, educators, policymakers, and the gambling industry. Our KingCasinoBonus.uk experts outline the key strategies that need to be considered by parents and regulatory bodies when dealing with the issue.

Education and Awareness

Children need to be educated about the harmful effects of underage age gambling and must not learn firsthand. If children are not informed about these topics society is playing a role in failing them. Children who have never gambled must also be educated about age restrictions, the risk of underage gambling and the risk of this action in general.

According to Calado F, Alexandre J, Rosenfeld L, Pereira R, and Griffiths MD (2020), prevention must include activities targeted to youth populations who do not gamble to prevent gambling problems from arising in the first place, with the goal of increasing awareness of the risks involved and consequences associated with problematic behaviours.

Schools, mainstream media platforms and community organizations can educate young people about the risks of underage gambling just like they do about drugs and other addictive substances, gambling in general and promoting responsible decision-making. By raising awareness about the potential consequences of underage betting, we can empower young individuals to make informed choices.

St-Pierre and Derevensky (2016) classified school-based gambling-specific prevention programs into two broad categories: (1) psychoeducational prevention programs and (2) comprehensive psychoeducational and skills training prevention programs. Both types of preventive initiatives aim to increase the accurate knowledge of gambling odds and to improve maladaptive gambling-related cognitions and misconceptions.

Psychoeducational prevention programs aim to provide knowledge about gambling and the risk of irresponsible gambling. Underage individuals must be introduced to the legal age restriction of betting, the consequences of underage gambling in their country or state, the long-term effects of this action, how underage gambling can influence other mental health problems and addictions, the effects of addiction and how it develops, etc.

Comprehensive psychoeducational and skills training programs aim to provide underage individuals with skills that can be used to stop underage gambling and fight addiction. This program also educates children on how to manage finances, critical thinking before they make a decision to engage in risky behaviour, clarity on what is risky behaviour (underage gambling) and joining other activities in a community that are not illegal and addictive.

Parental Involvement

Parents and guardians should be proactive in monitoring their children’s online activities and setting clear boundaries around gambling. Open communication and setting a positive example can help instil healthy attitudes towards risk and money management.

Talking about the risks and long-term effects of underage gambling with your children as a parent and encouraging other positive activities, such as sports, can stop your children from participating in underage gambling. If you have a child who is participating in underage betting, it is also advisable to talk to your psychologist or GP about how to handle it before it gets out of hand.

According to Addiction and Mental Health, Alberta Health Services (2022), to protect your children from underage gambling, you must use blocking software. This allows you to change passwords on apps at regular intervals, disable or manage pop-ups, limit internet access to only sessions that are supervised, set a timer and monitor how long they’re on the internet, help them keep their identity protected, consider cancelling access to your credit cards and remove all devices from bedrooms at night.

One of the most useful tools you can use is GAMSTOP as it can block access to all types of British casino websites and even block promotional materials about online betting to pop-up.

Regulation and Enforcement

According to IDnow (2024), KYC procedures are key when it comes to combating underage gambling online. These are the processes of verifying the identity of a user before or during the start of doing business with them. In the case of gambling, KYC is vital during the onboarding process to deny access to any ineligible users.

Governments and regulatory bodies have a responsibility to enforce age restrictions on gambling activities and hold operators accountable for preventing underage access to their platforms. Strict enforcement of age verification measures is essential to safeguard young people from the harms of gambling. Furthermore, online gambling, card games that they play at school and scratch cards are easily accessible by underage individuals, and regulations must be strict when it comes to these forms of gambling.

Support Services

Access to counselling and support services for individuals struggling with gambling-related issues is essential. By providing resources for young people who may be at risk of developing a gambling problem, we can intervene early and prevent long-term harm.

Other countries have responsible programs that address underage gambling by visiting schools and educating both teachers and students on how to prevent and fight underage gambling. Responsible programs aim to promote legal, safe gaming and prevent any negative outcomes that these activities might cause in an individual, family and society.

Gambling counselling toll frees must be available in any region where there is an activity of gambling. These counselling services allow underage gamblers to get an opportunity for guidance on how to stay away from underage gambling. These responsible programs must be able to conduct research in their regions for them to know how to address underage gambling.

There are also online apps like 100day Challenge and Reset designed to help problem gamblers overcome gambling problems.


Underage gambling in Great Britain poses a significant threat to the well-being of young individuals and society at large. By understanding the risks and implementing effective prevention strategies, we can work towards creating a safer environment for young people and reducing the prevalence of underage gambling-related harm.

It is essential for all involved parties, such as the UK gambling operators, parents, and governmental and regulatory bodies, to collaborate in addressing this issue and prioritizing the protection of vulnerable individuals from the dangers of underage gambling.


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