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Gambling and young people

Find out more about understanding the risks of young people gambling, parental controls and where to get help.

Published: 23 September 2020

Last updated: 3 June 2021

This version was printed or saved on: 19 April 2024

Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/public-and-players/guide/gambling-and-young-people

Overview: In most cases, the minimum legal age for gambling in Great Britain is 18.

This applies to:

The gambling industry's responsibility to protect young people

Any organisation offering gambling facilities in Britain must have procedures to prevent underage gambling. This includes both online betting sites and physical places you can gamble such as betting shops or casinos.

All gambling websites regulated by us must have:

Get help today

There are many organisations that can help and you can also find specific help if you know a young person who is struggling with gambling.

Latest trends in online gambling

The following types of gambling are closely linked with gaming. We recommend that parents are aware of these kind of activities, particularly if you're giving your child money for in-game items.

eSports

Electronic sports, also known as eSports, is playing computer games competitively. That may be two players against each other, or tournaments with hundreds of players. Platforms such as Twitch live stream these events to players all over the world. Some of the most popular games include Fortnight and the Fifa eClub World Cup.

eSports betting

Betting on eSports shouldn’t be treated any differently to betting on any other live event. Any gambling business offering eSports betting must have a licence with us. They should also carry out relevant age and identity checks to make sure the player is old enough to gamble.

Skins betting

Skins are in-game digital items used in some of the most popular video games. They include things like alterations to characters, weapons and equipment. The value of skins are based on their appearance, rarity and popularity.

Some websites have used these skins as a currency for illegal gambling. There is a risk that children may be gambling using skins.

If you find your child is gambling on skins websites

We want to hear from you so we can continue to crack down on unlicensed websites. You can report illegal activity to us confidentially.

What we’re doing to protect consumers

We’ve signed a memorandum of understanding with the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC). This is to ensure lessons learnt from other sports are applied to eSports.

We’re committed to working with the ESIC to address potential integrity risks. You can find out more about ESIC's integrity programme on their website (opens in new tab).

We also have a number of tools to tackle illegal sites.

Tips for parents: children and online gaming

Online and social gaming is a large industry moving at a fast pace. It includes games you may play on a console and games played over websites and live streaming platforms, such as Twitch.

Tips for safer gaming

Do:

Don't:

For more tips, see the Internet Matters website (opens in new tab).

How can I talk to my child about gambling?

Having a conversation with a trusted adult can help a better a young persons understanding of the consequences of gambling.

Most gambling is illegal for anyone under 18. The law is to protect young people from the risks of gambling.

Talking about the risks

When we talk about the risks of gambling, losing money and getting into debt can be the first thing that comes to mind.

However, there are other consequences which can shape habits in later life, such as:

How should I talk about gambling?

A good conversation will:

Find out more about support available to help young people struggling with gambling.

When’s the right time to bring the subject up?

A good time to bring up problem gambling might be when talking you’re talking about:

The conversation shouldn’t be a one-off. Keep bringing the topic up so the young person understands it’s ok to discuss gambling openly.

Conversation starters

The following prompts can be used to start an open and honest conversation about responsible gambling.

When you're watching sport together

Have you noticed the betting ads? Does it seem easy to win?

When you're talking about gaming apps or social gaming

Do you think certain games or features in the game you're playing are gaming or gambling? What's the difference and do you think it matters?

During major sports events such as the World Cup or Grand National

Do you think people feel they have to gamble to enjoy the match or the races?

When you're talking about spending time online

Do your friends gamble to fit in? Do you feel pressured to do these kind of activities or using social media?

Where can I get help for a young person's gambling?

Speaking to your GP is the best place to start if you’re worried about a young person’s physical or mental health due to gambling. They can refer you to treatment and support services in your area.

Alternatively, you can also contact the following organisations directly.

Get help for your child, or a young person you know

National Problem Gambling Clinic

The National Problem Gambling Clinic (opens in new tab) is a specialist NHS clinic for problem gamblers.

The clinic accepts referrals for people aged 13 or over, with complex problems relating to gambling, living in England or Wales.

You can read more about the criteria for the service on the National Problem Gambling Clinic’s website.

Email

gambling.cnwl@nhs.net

Phone

020 7381 7722

GamCare

GamCare (opens in new tab) offers information, support and counselling. It runs free services including the National Gambling helpline, live chat and support forums.

Live chat

Chat with a GamCare advisor (opens in new tab).
Free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

National Gambling Helpline

0808 8020 133
Free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.