Teen Gambling – 3 Talking Points Parents Need to Know

As the 2012 political race nears its end, we’ve all been subjected to each party’s seemingly endless talking points. And while we might get the urge to plug our ears rather than hear the same scripted political notes spouted over and over, talking points can be helpful conversation starters for parents who want to guide their teens, especially when talking about a danger kids may not recognize yet, like gambling addiction.

The next time you and your child are together and you see an ad for a Pennsylvania casino or surf past a poker tournament on TV, use these points to jumpstart a conversation about the dangers of problem gambling:

Teen Talking Point #1: Gambling doesn’t just happen in casinos; it can be done anytime, anywhere.

Paint a clear picture of what gambling looks like. For example, it’s not just the senior sitting at a slot machine plugging away. Gambling behavior includes buying into the lottery, betting on sports events, and playing on Internet casinos. It can be done in person, on a computer, or with a smartphone. This type of explanation starts to build a framework your teen can use to make smarter decisions about what they’re going to engage in.

Teen Talking Point #2: Gambling is not a way for you to make money.

The brain of a teenager is still growing and learning; we can’t expect them to make the same financially-sound decisions that we expect from adults. That’s why it is essential to explain how the business of gambling works. Help your son or daughter understand that casinos (online or off) are in business to make money. The gambling industry is so good at it, in fact, that they generate billions in revenue annually. That revenue comes directly from the gamblers, and the facilities work hard to ensure the odds are in their own favor. The house is designed to win.

Teen Talking Point #3: Problem gambling has long-term consequences that you don’t want to deal with.

No one loses their house or destroys their credit by constantly losing at Angry Birds. On the other hand, gambling addiction has a profound effect that lasts years or even decades.

  • Financial trouble: Excessive betting drains bank accounts—fast. Have a conversation with your teen about what happens when money is gambled away. He or she could be left scrambling for rent money or be turned down for a car loan. In addition, using a credit card to gamble too much can hurt more than just the wallet; increasingly employers are using credit checks to weed out potentially risky job candidates.
  • Legal messes: It’s common for someone in the depths of addiction to commit illegal acts to find money for gambling. Many gamblers justify the behavior by telling themselves they’ll pay it back after the next big win. But that big win never comes, that web of fraud becomes thicker, and eventually someone finds out what’s happening to the money. Result? Jail time, fines, and a legal hassle no one wants to go through.
  • Relationship damage: Gambling problems put strain on any relationship, whether it’s with a best friend or a new love. Create a two-way conversation by asking your teen to explain how they think a gambling problem might affect the people they love most.

With betting facilities within a short drive of Lancaster and Lebanon plus easy access to online betting, kids moving into young adulthood need the tools to make reasoned decisions about acceptable gambling behavior. Start your conversation today.

If you need more info about problem gambling, Compass Mark will help. We’re an experienced local team with the resources to refer families, counselors, and teachers to gambling addiction education and help in Lancaster and Lebanon. Contact us via the online help form, or call (717) 299-2831.


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