Frequently asked questions

International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors

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Adolescents | FAQs

Frequently asked questions

Why do boys develop more problems than girls when they gamble?

We don't know for sure why more boys develop gambling problems than girls. Researchers have suggested that boys may be more attracted to the competitive nature and risk-taking aspects of gambling games. Boys also tend to be more impulsive and greater risk-takers than girls. Boys may also be more susceptible to develop gambling problems than girls because they tend to participate in greater numbers in gambling activities that are more problematic, such as sports betting, video lottery terminals and card games like poker.

Why do people develop gambling problems?

People gamble for different reasons. Individuals who do not have a gambling problem play once in a while and for enjoyment. They are willing to take their chances with amounts of money put aside for leisure activities. On the other hand, people who have a gambling problem report that they gamble to escape their problems, to feel better, or to feel more important. They also believe that they can win their money back by developing strategies to control the outcomes. However, we know that the outcomes of a game of chance are random and cannot be controlled.

Is a gambling addiction as serious as a drug addiction?

Yes, in many ways it can be as serious as a drug or alcohol addiction. An individual with a gambling problem often becomes preoccupied with gambling, and might have an uncontrollable urge to gamble that makes him or her do things they wouldn't normally do, just like with a drug addiction. People who are addicted believe that their actions will help them forget their problems. They view gambling or drugs as a solution to their problems when in fact the addiction only adds to their problems.

Why do we try to restrict the access and participation of gambling activities to underage youth?

Adults have a responsibility to protect underage youth from engaging in gambling activities. It is important to teach children and teenagers about the risks involved with gambling. Should teenagers decide to gamble, learning about the risks and consequences associated with excessive gambling can help them become informed consumers and set responsible limits on their time and money. Research shows that the earlier a person starts gambling, the more at risk he or she becomes to develop a gambling problem. Currently in Quebec, it is illegal for anyone to sell gambling products or services to minors (those under 18 years old), but adolescents who choose to gamble are not themselves breaking the law.

What should I do if my friends ask me to join them in gambling?

Before you make your decision, be aware of the risks of gambling. If you do decide to play, then be sure to play responsibly by placing limits on the amount of time you will play, and the amount of money you are willing to gamble. Never bet more than you can afford to lose, and don't make the mistake of trying to win back losses by betting more money.