8 Reasons Why Teenagers Shouldn’t Gamble

Gambling is very appealing to teenagers for various reasons. The idea that they can win substantial amounts of money by simply playing video games or slot games is indeed compelling. However, underage gambling should never be encouraged. 

Healthy gambling involves proper risk assessment and a deep understanding of the value of money. Since a person’s brain does not fully develop until they are past their teenage years, most teenagers do not possess the ability to properly understand the risks being taken, and the amount of money being sacrificed. As a result, they are at risk of developing a gambling addiction. Studies show that teenagers aged 13 to 17 are seven times more likely than adults to become problem gamblers. As you’ll soon see, the government is justified in banning underage gambling. In this article, we will reveal eight reasons why teenagers shouldn’t be involved in gambling activities.     

Risks of Addiction 

Teenagers are often searching for new ways to get thrills and excitement. Because of this, they are more at risk of developing a gambling addiction than adults. Research shows that the younger a person is when they start gambling, the higher is the possibility that they develop a gambling addiction.

Although gambling itself is not harmful and does not lead to addiction in the majority of people, speaking about teenagers, it often goes out of control and can lead to serious problems. Many teenagers who gamble get consumed in the rush of it all and are often too focused on getting ‘the big win’ to realize the amount of time and money they are wasting. This could lead to problems such as:

  • Inability to find time for friends and family;
  • Deterioration of interpersonal relationships;
  • Declining academic performance;
  • Increased feelings of depression and/or anger;
  • Bankruptcy.

How to Distinguish Teenagers Gambling Addiction

If left unchecked, gambling addiction in teenagers can lead to even worse problems like substance abuse and criminal tendencies, as a teenager who has become completely addicted to gambling would not mind doing illegal jobs to get more money. Most teenagers who gamble hide it from their families quite well. However, if excessive gambling deteriorates into a gambling addiction, it becomes more difficult to hide. A few signs of teenage gambling addiction include:

  • Huge unexplained debts;
  • Loss of interest in academic activities;
  • Having strained social relationships;
  • Selling precious personal belongings;
  • Having a lot of unexplainable income that quickly disappears;
  • Inability to Properly Assess Risks.

The part of the brain that assesses risks and makes complex decisions does not fully develop in a person until they are in their early twenties. This is why teenagers often take wild risks and make decisions that seem absurd to adults. When a teenager participates in gambling activities, most of their decisions are driven by emotions and impulse, because their brain is not developed enough to properly evaluate the situation. This can quickly turn a casual gambling habit into gambling addiction. It is for this reason that underage gambling is prohibited in most countries.

Teenagers Play Free Games Consequences

Another reason teenagers are more likely than adults to ignore certain precautions when it comes to gambling(like not gambling with a credit card for instance) is that most teenagers are hypersensitive to rewards and often do not stop to consider the risks.  Adults, however, are mature enough to comprehend what they are getting into when gambling. Most adults have a deep understanding of the value of money so tread carefully when on casino websites. While free slot machine games that don’t require download or registration might not be a very good idea for teenagers, adults can take advantage of free slot games without any adverse consequences. 

These free casino games no download are a good way for adults to play fun classic slot games and video slots for free while standing a chance of earning money. Although free slot games that require no registration are easily accessible to teens, teenagers should be discouraged from playing such games. Adults, however, can safely play online slot games without being at significant risk of falling into pathological gambling.   

Teenage Loss of Interest in Jobs and School Activities

The more a teenager gambles, the more the activity takes up space in their mind, barely leaving space for other activities. Teenagers who gamble often tend to struggle academically, as they have to work hard to balance the emotional stress that comes with gambling and losing, with the physical and mental demands of acquiring an education. When teenagers spend most of their free time gambling, it becomes difficult for them to focus in class because they will be preoccupied with thoughts of how to win the next time they gamble. 

A teenager who is fully immersed in the gambling lifestyle will also inadvertently begin to side-line his studying, substituting it for illicit jobs that can provide them with quick money. The most insidious part of teenage gambling is how it quickly takes over an adolescent’s life. When a teenager spends too much time gambling, soon enough, that will be the only thing they can think about.

Risks of Debt Accumulation 

Because most teenagers do not have a lot of money, to begin with, many have to seek alternative measures to get money when they use all their savings to gamble. This usually leads to them seeking financial support from their friends and family or even seeking external loans. They either use the borrowed money to pay for the things that they needed their own money for in the first place, or they use it to gamble again, hoping to win enough to settle off their debts. This rarely ever works, though, as they soon end up in even deeper debt. Even a teenager as young as 13 can end up in huge debts as a result of gambling.

Many teenage gamblers don’t learn from their mistakes and will continue to borrow money until the financial stress takes a toll on their mental health. The farther they sink into debt, the more desperate and distressed they become, which could lead to them developing behavioural problems. Below are some of the adverse effects that result from debt accumulation:

  • Friction in interpersonal relationships;
  • Social isolation;
  • Theft;
  • Increased tendency of committing crimes;
  • Family problems.

Teenage Gamblers Tend to Make Rash Decisions

When a teenager spends an excessive amount of time gambling, they become so focused on it that it keeps them from carefully considering the choices they make. They tend to put their gambling habit first when making decisions without considering the future consequences. This often takes them into a downward spiral into pathological gambling and severe financial instability. They begin to gamble with more money than is advisable, disregarding the well-meaning advice of their loved ones.

Young People Struggle to Deal with Losses

Losing when gambling is hard on everyone, even adults. Dealing with the losses that sometimes come with gambling requires a lot of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is generally a trait that is developed in a person over time. On average, teenagers are less emotionally intelligent than adults, because they lack the life experience needed to properly nurture emotional intelligence. This makes it incredibly difficult for teenagers to deal with significant gambling losses. 

The struggle young people experience when dealing with gambling losses possibly explains why there are high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies among teenagers who gamble frequently. 

Gambling Affects the Mental Health of Teenagers

Several studies show a strong correlation between teenage gambling and an increased prevalence of psychiatric symptoms such as depression and substance abuse. These symptoms are pervasive and continue to affect teenagers who gamble as they grow older, even when they reduce the frequency of their gambling. The symptoms also seem to be worse and more prevalent the younger the teenagers were when they started gambling. The table below compares the prevalence of psychiatric symptoms among adolescent gamblers compared to adolescent non-gamblers according to this study.

Psychiatric symptomsPrevalence in adolescent gamblersPrevalence in adolescent non-gamblers
Alcohol abuse21.0%6.5%
Drug abuse12.6%4.2%

Gambling in teenagers can lead to conduct disorders such as delinquency and other manifestations of deviance. As teenage gambling and anti-social behaviours are both rooted in impulsivity, one can lead to the other. Teenagers who develop a gambling problem are more likely than non-gambling teenagers to express disregard for other people and to show troubling behavioural patterns.


Gambling puts a certain amount of emotional and mental pressure on a person. While most adults can handle this well, teenagers are ill-equipped for dealing with all the stressors that come with gambling. Although the idea of playing different free slot games and casino games for money may indeed be extremely appealing to teenagers, it is best advised that they stay away from gambling activities until they are legal adults.


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