What: Are The Barriers To Seeking Support?

facts_about_gambling_1According to an Australian report (Young People and Problem Gambling: Forum Report, 2004), there are a number of reasons why youth fail to seek help when they have gambling problems. As a parent, it will be helpful to remember that it isn’t always easy for your child to ask for help, particularly if he or she is worried about the consequences. As always, offering yourself as a source of support is an easy way to show your child(ren) that you care enough to allow them to make mistakes, and will love and support them throughout the healing process.

Reasons Why Youth Might Not Seek Support For Their Gambling Problems:

  • Lack of awareness about problem gambling.
  • The notion of “gambling” is not one that youth tend to associate with themselves (Skinner, Biscope, Murray, & Korn, 2004).
  • In fact, gambling and problem gambling tend to be things that youth think of as happening with older youths or adults – and not themselves (Young People and Problem Gambling: Forum Report, 2004).
  • There is a lack of discussion about youth gambling which is only just beginning to gain attention from parents, teachers, medical practitioners, and youth themselves.
  • It is possible that a youth may not pursue help for a gambling problem because they simply do not recognize that they have a problem.
  • As a parent, you can help your child if she or he has a gambling problem, or prevent a gambling problem, by staying informed about problem gambling and its risks.
  • Only 10% of Grade 8 students fear being caught when gambling for money. Gambling might be so socially acceptable that youth do not realize that it can become a problem (Hardoon, Derevensky, & Gupta, 2003).

To learn more about how to identify a gambling problem, click here.


  • Youth might find it difficult to admit that they have a problem due to the stigma associated with the word “addiction”. Instead of using the word “addiction,” it is sometime helpful to use the terms “gambling problem”, or “gambling issue”.

Lack Of Resources:

  • Youth gambling is still a relatively new problem. As a result, there are few resources available to help youth through gambling problems. Access to services are improving, but a lack of resources is a barrier for some youth living in rural areas.

Occurrence Of Other Problem Behaviours Or Preoccupation With Other Issues

  • Some research shows that gambling problems often occur in conjunction with clinical depression among youth (Gupta & Derevensky, 1998). This might make it difficult for a young person to deal with a co-occurring gambling problem.


  • Adolescents tend to take risks more than adults because they feel invincible or invulnerable. Youth might not seek help for a gambling problem because most are not as emotionally developed as adults (Hardoon, Derevensky, & Gupta, 2003).
  • It is estimated that most adult problem gamblers began gambling at the age of 9 or 10 years (Hardoon, Derevensky, & Gupta, 2003).
  • It is estimated that between 4% and 8% of adolescents exhibit pathological or compulsive patterns of gambling activity.

Privacy Concerns

  • Youths who recognize that they have a gambling problem might avoid getting help because they are afraid of others (peers, parents, school) “finding out” about their problem.

Parental Gambling Or Lack Of Awareness

  • Involved and aware parents can be the best defense against youth problem gambling. An early study found the between 80% and 90% of parents report that they are aware that their children are gambling for money, and 84% do not object (Hardoon, Derevensky, & Gupta, 2003).
  • Many current adult problem gamblers had parents who also gambled (Ladouceur, Vitaro, & Cote, 2001). Growing up in an environment with parents who also gamble might make it more difficult for a youth to seek help with his or her own gambling.

Gupta, R., & Derevensky, J. L. (1998). Adolescent Gambling Behaviour: A Prevalence Study and examination of the Correlates Associated with Problem Gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 14(4), 319-345.
Hardoon, K., Derevensky, J. L., & Gupta, R. (2003). Empirical measures vs. perceived gambling severity among youth. Why adolescent problem gamblers fail to seek treatment. Addictive Behaviors, 28, 933-946.
Ladouceur, R., Vitaro, F., & Cote, M.-A. (2001). Parents’ Attitudes, Knowledge, and Behavior Toward Youth Gambing: A Five-Year Follow-up. Journal of Gambling Studies, 17(2), 101-116.
Skinner, H., Biscope, S., Murray, M., & Korn, D. (2004). Dares to Addiction: Youth Definitions and Perspectives on Gambling. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 95(4), 264-267.
Young People and Problem Gambling: Forum Report. (2004).). Victoria: Youth Affairs Council of Victoria Inc.