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 in-game video purchases or digital currency on an NHL hockey game—it's all gambling.
Most young people don't think of themselves as gamblers. After all, they don't gamble at casinos, bars, or racetracks the way many adults do. Yet a lot of young people have been gambling for years. Even though the average legal age for gambling is 19 in many provinces in Canada, young people can easily access unregulated and regulated gambling websites.
Most young people are more exposed to the opportunity to practice gambling regardless of the restrictions. The most common ways to gamble in this age group is in:
A survey done in 2016 in 9 Canadian provinces showed that about 8 out of 10 young people have gambled at least once in their lifetime. This suggests that gambling is highly popular among young people. This study also showed that those who gambled online scored "high" in problem gambling severity compared to those who only gambled offline.
A 2005 survey of Grade 7 to 12 students in Alberta about gambling, showed the following:
The 2005 survey of students in Alberta also showed that:
Other studies have reported that some groups of young people are at higher risk for developing more serious gambling problems. For example, young people with learning disorders, indigenous young people living in urban areas, and young people who experience substance disorder, depression, and anxiety.
Young people with gambling problems may also have trouble in other areas of their lives where they need support. These could include health concerns, financial problems, feeling lonely, mood swings, school issues, using digital technology too much, or more conflicts with their parents or guardians.
If you're worried that you or someone you know may be having problems with gambling, there is help available. Addiction treatment services are voluntary and confidential. For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, call the Addiction Help Line. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
To get more information about gambling and young people, visit
Growing up online, and
GameSense Alberta | Responsible Gambling.
If you're trying to cut down on how much you gamble, you can use
Mobile Monitor Your Gambling & Urges (MYGU). It's anonymous (private), free, and easy to use.
Current as of: June 15, 2022
Author: Addiction and Mental Health, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.