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Teens and Gambling


​​​​​​​​​​​Most young people don’t think of themselves as gamblers. After all, they don’t gamble at casinos, bars, or racetracks the way adults do. Yet ​most of today’s teens have been gambling for years.

Gambling is risking money or something else of value on an activity that has an uncertain outcome. That can mean a lot of things. Playing cards or videogames for money, buying raffle tickets, betting on who’s going to win a pool match, or betting your favourite CD on an NHL game—it’s all gambling.

Here are some facts and figures about teens and gambling in Alberta, taken from a 2008 survey of students in Grades 7 to 12:


  • Overall, 54% of students don’t gamble.
  • The top three types of gambling among students are playing scratch tickets (25%), playing cards for money (22%), and betting on sporting events (22%).
  • High-school students are more likely to gamble than junior-high students.
  • Bingo is more popular with junior-high students than with high-school students. Most other types of gambling are more popular with high-school students.
  • Less than 5% of students bet online.
  • Gambling among Alberta teens has gone up slightly since 2002—especially playing cards for money.

Problem gambling

  • Overall, about 2% of students show signs of problem gambling.
  • Another 3.5% of students show signs of being at risk for problem gambling.
  • Males are more likely to have gambled in the past 12 months than females—about 52% of males versus about 39% of females).
  • The amount of time students gamble increased as they got older: About 37% of Grade 7 students gambled in the last 12 months compared to about 56% of Grade 12 students.
  • Males are more likely to be at risk for gambling problems or to show behaviour that may suggest a gambling problem.
  • High-school students are more likely than junior-high students to be at risk of developing gambling problems.

Often, teens with gambling problems have troubles in other areas of their lives that they need to sort out, such as feeling lonely or arguing a lot with their parents.

If you are worried that you or someone you know may be having problems with gambling we’re here to help. Our addiction treatment services are voluntary and confidential. For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, please call the 24-hour Help Line.

Current as of: April 11, 2019

Author: Addiction and Mental Health, Alberta Health Services