Youth & Gambling

If you’re curious about problem gambling, you’ve come to the right place!

Did you know…

  • …that gambling can become an addiction for some people in the same way that alcohol and other drugs can?
  • …that youth are at least three times more at risk for developing a gambling problem than adults?

Listen to the following rap song to learn a little more — and we’ve included the lyrics if you’d like to follow along.

What is gambling?

Gambling is when you risk something you value, whether it’s money or possessions (also known as a “bet”):

  • in a game of skill or chance;
  • in an attempt to win something more than what you bet; and
  • there is no way of knowing whether you’ll win or lose the game.

Why do people gamble?

People gamble because it can be:

  • fun and exciting;
  • a form of entertainment, like going to a movie; and
  • a way to temporarily forget about problems.

What makes gambling exciting are the risks involved and the potential for winning. What causes problems is becoming too focused on what you might win without carefully considering what you will more likely lose. Never bet something you cannot afford to lose, ever.

What is a gambling problem?

Gambling becomes a problem when it:

  • can’t be easily stopped or controlled;
  • is done over and over, and over again;
  • gets worse over time; and
  • continues despite the problems it causes with finances, family, friends, relationships, school, work, health, etc.

The following videos demonstrate how a person with a gambling problem may act. Do you know someone? Have you ever been in a similar situation?

How do I avoid developing a gambling problem?

  • The best way to avoid addiction is to not get involved in substances or behaviors that may lead to addiction. It’s easier said than done, but it can be that simple.
  • The second-best way to avoid addiction is to wait to try legal but potentially addictive activities — like drinking and gambling — until you are of legal age or older. Waiting allows your brain to grow more resistant to addiction

Whether it’s for the first time or the next time, here are 3 Smart Things we strongly suggest you think about before gambling or drinking.

1. Take Care.

Avoid potentially addictive activities – including drinking and gambling. If your close family members have a history of struggling with an addiction, be aware that you are more at risk of developing an addiction of your own.

2. Protect your brain. Protect your future.

Wait until you are of legal age to try drinking or gambling. The minimum legal ages to drink alcohol or gamble in the State of Delaware are:


to play charity bingo, purchase lottery tickets, scratch-offs, or make a bet on the horses


to gamble in casinos, on slot machines, or on the internet


to drink alcohol

It is not just that it is the law. Remember your brain is not fully formed until you are at least 21-25 years old. Why risk permanent damage to your brain by participating in potentially addictive activities while your brain is especially vulnerable?

3. Say No.

Peer pressure from friends will not be difficult for you to manage if you practice ways to say “No” before the situation occurs. Try one of these or create your own:

  • “I would really rather not (drink or gamble). I’m good the way I am, thanks.”
  • “No thanks, I need to keep my brain clear for a test on Monday.”
  • “Sorry, I am saving my extra money for a birthday present for my little sister.”
  • “I’ve seen what (drinking or gambling) has done to some people I know and I just won’t go down that road myself.”

If you need to talk with someone about a gambling problem — concerning you or someone you love — the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems is here to listen. Our free and confidential Helpline provides a person to talk with and resources to help sort through your concerns — any day, any night, any time. Please find a trusted adult and, together, call the DCGP Helpline at 888-850-8888.

Do gambling problems run in families?

Yes, they can. The tendency to become addicted — to alcohol or drugs or even gambling — can be inherited. It has to do with your brain chemistry. If one or more of your blood relatives appear to have a problem with addiction, play it smart. Do not experiment with alcohol or gambling until you are at least the legal age to do so, if at all.

The Delaware Council on Gambling Problems provides services to the problem gambler and his or her family members. If gambling is causing a problem for your family, find a trusted adult and, together, call the DCGP Helpline at 888-850-8888.

How might I know if one of my parents has a gambling problem?

Take a look at these short videos and see if any of them seem familiar:

As you can see, a gambling problem affects everyone in the family. The Delaware Council on Gambling Problems is here to help not only the gambler with the problem, but also the family members who are hurt by the gambling problem.

If you want to speak with someone confidentially about a gambling problem in your family, find a trusted adult and, together, please call the DCGP Helpline at 888-850-8888 — any day, any night, any time. The call is FREE. We’re here to help you.

What if there’s no addiction in my family?

Although the risk for addiction is higher for those who have a family history of addiction, there are other factors involved. For example, the earlier you begin experimenting with gambling, drugs, or alcohol, the more likely you are to become addicted. Also, those with certain mental disorders, such as depression and ADHD, are more likely to develop an addiction.

My parents don’t seem to mind that I gamble a little, so why should I?

Many parents believe gambling in the home is harmless fun. But recent research indicates that gambling can become an addiction similar to alcohol or drugs, and that the earlier you start, the more likely it is that you will develop a problem.

How can I tell if I have a gambling problem?

Take this self-test to determine if gambling is becoming a problem for you.

If the answers to this test indicate you might have a gambling problem, find a trusted adult and, together, please call the DCGP Helpline at 888-850-8888. We are here to answer your questions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Our Helpline is free and confidential. We can help you get the help you need.

What kind of help can the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems Helpline provide?

We prefer that you make the call with a trusted adult. If you call the DCGP Helpline together at 888-850-8888, we can provide you with the following:

  • A live person to talk to about your gambling problem, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • Free and confidential information about problem gambling, over the phone and by mail — in a plain envelope sent to the address of your choice.
  • Referral to a licensed counselor who has been trained to deal with gambling problems (if you are under 18, this may require parental involvement).
  • Referrals to self-help groups like Gamblers Anonymous (for the gambler) and Gam-Anon (for the family member of a gambler).

All references in this document about substance abuse or addictions other than problem gambling are for comparison purposes only. The Delaware Council on Gambling Problems, Inc. offers no service for addictions other than problem gambling.