How to talk to your kids about gambling

March Madness is in full swing and college basketball teams across the country are playing for a spot in the NCAA tournament. Maybe you’ve been asked to make a friendly wager with a friend or create a bracket for a workplace pool. Unfortunately, this is also a time for young people to take part in a high-risk and potentially addictive activity.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, between 60% and 80% of high school students report having gambled for money in the past year and up to 6% are addicted to gambling. In addition to the rise of online and retail sports betting, the opportunities to gamble are delivered right to kids’ phones and computers.

While the legal age to gamble in the U.S. is either 18 or 21 (depending on the state and type of gambling), kids will find a way around the rules by creating a false account or use other people’s account who are of age.

Talk to your kids about gambling to help them make good choices:

  1. Discuss that gambling just doesn’t happen in the casino – gambling includes sports betting, lottery tickets, card games and certain online games.
  2. Explain the concept of addiction – winning will create a surge of brain chemicals that make us feel good, so we want to try to win again and again.
  3. Talk about problems that can come from gambling such as addiction, losing money, and getting arrested or fined. Don’t forget to mention the impact on relationships with family and friends, mental health and use of drugs and alcohol.
  4. Set the example with your own behavior and don’t gamble.
  5. Use parental controls to check your child’s activity, limit certain content, and put limits on the amount of screen time.

Additional resources can be found on CPCMG’s Health Hub.