Public health and prevention

International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors

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Prevention | Public health and prevention

Public health and prevention

Youth problem gambling is a growing public health concern. Even though gambling activities are legally restricted to adults in many other jurisdictions, there is clear evidence that underage youth continue to actively participate in gambling. More and more youth are exposed to the availability and accessibility of many forms of gambling, and are tempted by the pressures to participate.

Gambling problems have long-term severe consequences on a teenager's life and on the life of those close to him or her. Some of the adverse effects of a gambling problem can be seen on various levels of individual functioning (affective, cognitive, social, academic,) and on both mental and physical health.

The burden of problem gambling among youth is socially invisible and is masked by popular misconceptions. Public perception and knowledge are misguided largely as a result of the promotion of gambling as a harmless form of entertainment and as an enjoyable activity. The gambling industry actively promotes the picture of gambling as glamorous entertainment, and as a means of achieving financial freedom. Adolescents are particularly attracted by the excitement and the prestige often associated with gambling, especially with the popularization of poker. Furthermore, most adolescents remain unaware of the risks associated with excessive gambling participation.