It can be a ‘hidden addiction’ when it comes to youth. You cannot see it in their eyes, or smell it in their breath and there are no scars on their body.
However, problem gambling can be seen as the ‘gate way’ to several high-risk behaviors and problems. Gambling is a serious addiction and has damaging effects on not only the victim, but also their family and friends.
With all of the statistics telling us how many young individuals are affected by this addiction, it’s important to recognise the consequences and problems they face from gambling.
Teens who gamble have higher rates of:
- Bankruptcy/ money problems
An average problem gambler in Australia loses around $21, 000 per year. Some poker machines can allow a gambler to lose more than $1, 500 in just one hour. In Australia, young people (18-24 years old) spend more money on poker machines than any other age.
- Absenteeism from school and early drop-out
This includes poor academic performance and loss of motivation.
- Housing crisis and homelessness
Whether it’s through financial problems, due to money lost from addiction, or family members kicking young adults out for their problem, homelessness is a common link to gambling addiction.
- Substance abuse
This involves alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Problem gamblers are four times more likely to have problems with alcohol and four times as likely to smoke daily, than non-gamblers.
- Suicidal ideation and suicide
Problem gambling can lead to feelings of helplessness, as youth feel they have nowhere else to turn. Only 15% of problem gamblers seek help due to stigma, leading them to face the issue on their own.
- Mental health issues
This includes anxiety, depression and anti- social behaviour.
- Criminal behaviour
A higher rate of illegal activity such as robbery, in order to fund their addiction and financial difficulties perpetuated from their problem.
- Disrupted family and peer relationships
For each problem gambler, it is estimated that 5-17 other individuals may be affected by their addiction. This could include emotional impacts such as, guilt, arguments, disapproval and disruptions to family life.
Australian Government. 2016. Facts. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.problemgambling.gov.au/facts/. [Accessed 4 October 2016].
KIDBET. 2016. Gambling & Young People. [ONLINE] Available at: http://kidbet.com.au/download/Gambling%20and%20young%20people.PDF. [Accessed 4 October 2016].