Teens & Gambling

While teens aren’t permitted to gamble, that doesn’t mean they don’t. Get the facts about teens and gambling so you can spot risky behaviour before it becomes a problem.

Legally, teens under the age of 18 are not permitted to gamble in Canada. But despite not having access to casinos or the ability to buy lottery tickets, a high percentage of young people report gambling in some form or experiencing harm from gambling. This includes casino-style games on social networking sites, dares or challenges between friends, sports betting and instant-win tickets.

Facts about teen gambling


In a sample of high school students from Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, 41.6% of adolescents reported gambling in the past 3 months (Elton-Marshall, Leatherdale, & Turner, 2016)

1 in 10

Almost 1 in 10 (9.4%) adolescents had gambled online in the past 3 months, with sports pools being the most popular type of game (7.3%; Ibid.)


In Ontario, one-third of secondary students (31%) report having gambled on one more activity in the past year (Boak et al. 2018)


  • Teenagers who gambled online reported more gambling problems than those who played at land-based venues (Elton-Marshall, Leatherdale, & Turner, 2016)
  • 4% of adolescents had played online simulated gambling games in the past 3 months (free poker, slots, or gambling games on Facebook) ( Veselka et al. 2018.)
  • Those who had played simulated gambling games were more likely to gamble for money and to have gambling problems (Ibid.)
  • Adolescents who reported playing simulated slots had the highest proportion of high-severity gamblers (Ibid.)
  • Roughly 7% of students report symptoms of a low-to-moderately severe gambling problem with 2% indicating a severe problem (Boak et al. 2018)
  • 8% gambled money on video games and 4% gambled money on the Internet (Boak et al. 2018)


Playing simulated gambling games is a gateway to later gambling with real money, increasing the odds of doing so by 8.9% (Dussault et al. 2017)

Warning signs your teen may have a gambling problem

Problems with gambling can occur at any age. And because gambling problems aren’t often visible like alcohol or drugs, they can be overlooked.

Here are some signs your teen may be engaging in risky behaviour:

  • Skipping classes or work to gamble
  • Spending less time with friends or avoiding family get-togethers to gamble
  • Lying about how much they are gambling or how much they’ve spent gambling
  • Poor nutrition, health and sleep
  • Borrowing/stealing to gamble
  • Drinking and/or drug use
  • Thinking about gambling frequently

Everything a teen needs to know about gambling, and more.

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Get tips on how to talk to your kids about gambling.

If you think your teenager might be gambling, it’s time to start a conversation.

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