How to Talk to Your Children About Gambling

16 Apr 2024

It’s no secret that gambling is common in Australia. Children may be exposed to gambling through avenues such as television, social media, video games, gambling apps, and their family and friends.

If you’re worried about your child gambling, it’s critical to talk to them about safer gambling and the risks of gambling harm. If your child is gambling, support is available.

Remember, social media and video games can still be used safely when you help your child understand the risks of gambling and gambling harm.


Children gambling in Australia

Schools in Australia have reported increasing impacts of gambling on their students’ education and brain development. Children as young as 10 years old are gambling, prompting an urgency for greater awareness of gambling harm affecting young children.

“We have allowed gambling to become so normalised in this country that gambling harm is now increasingly common in school-age children.”

-Dr. Sophie Scamps

Young people may access gambling or gambling-like activities through video games, mobile apps, and websites. Advertisements and social media influencers (such as TikTok, Twitch, and YouTube) that promote gambling are contribute to the normalisation and appeal of gambling.


What to do if your child is gambling

If child is under the age of 18 and is participating in a form of gambling, it’s critical to seek early intervention.

In addition to talking to your child about gambling, here are some actions you can take:

  1. Keep checking in
  2. Limit your child’s access to your money
  3. Learn more about the video games your child is playing
  4. Review the apps and subscriptions on your child’s phone
  5. Review the content and adverts your child is watching on YouTube and TikTok; check if there are safety settings in the platform which limit access to such content and advertising
  6. Call Gambling Help at 1800 858 858 to be referred to the appropriate free services.

Social media and video games aren’t necessarily bad – with the right information and safety procedures, your child can still safely use social media and play video games.


How to talk to your child about gambling

Considering its popularity in our country, gambling can be a difficult but important topic to address with children.

Here are some tips for talking to a young person about gambling:

  1. Pick a natural moment to talk about gambling, like when a gambling ad comes on the TV, or when a major sports match like State of Origin is approaching
  2. Explore how gambling presents itself in your child’s life – this may be video games, sports, through influencers and celebrities, or in advertisements
  3. Help your child understand that gambling is a product of chance in which the odds of winning are low - so it’s not a safe way to earn money
  4. Teach your child about the risks of gambling harm, such as debt and emotional distress.


How children and young people become exposed to gambling

The popularity of gambling in Australia means it’s likely your child will see a family member gambling or hear about gambling at a sports match or on TV. In Australia, the most common type of gambling among teenagers includes private betting, such as cards (poker), with friends and family.

Celebrity and social media influencer endorsements promote gambling products to their audience, which can include children and teenagers.

An  found that children and teenagers tend to perceive gambling as socially acceptable when they see a celebrity or social media influencer in a gambling advert. Children as young as 12 believe celebrities and influencers make gambling seem normal, safe, fun, and “cool.”

Another  found children as young as eight years old thought it was appealing when influencers promote gambling websites on YouTube and TikTok.


Gambling in video games

There are a lot of ways gambling can show up in video games:

  • Loot boxes: Chance-based rewards you can win or buy in-game with real money
  • Betting on eSports: Using virtual items, currency, or real money to place bets on the outcome of a video game competition
  • Social casino games: Games which simulate gambling activities, such as poker or slots, but do not use real money; sometimes seen as mini games within popular video games
  • Skin gambling: Using real money on wagering with in-game “skins” (character customisations)
  • Virtual goods like character upgrades, tools, and customisations: Often obtained by chance or can be purchased with real money.

It’s important to remember that video games aren’t necessarily bad. By understanding what your child is playing and teaching them about gambling, they can safely play their favourite video games.

Be sure to monitor your child’s access to bank cards while gaming. Review your bank statements, your child’s app store purchases, and video game store (such as PlayStation Store) purchases.


Support is available

If you would like some information about what to do if your child is gambling, free support is available. Gambling Help counsellors are available 24/7 for confidential support at 1800 858 858. Our counsellors can refer you to the appropriate resources for you and your child.

Contact us

If gambling is impacting your life or a loved one's life, it's okay to reach out for help. It’s free and confidential.

Call the 24/7 Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858

Face-to-face counselling locations