The Influence of Parents on Youth Gambling

| February 5, 2013

Source for content on this page: Oregon Health Authority, 2010 | Print full copy

In Oregon as elsewhere, most parents and kids still don’t see gambling as a behavior that can lead to serious problems, even addiction. A 2008 statewide study of Oregon youth and their parents notes that “high proportions of parents (regardless of whether or not they gamble) believe that gambling is a harmless activity, that youth who gamble are unlikely to have problems in school, and that
youth gambling is not associated with alcohol or drug use”.
(Volberg, Hedberg & Moore, 2008).

An Oregon focus group study of parent/child beliefs about gambling revealed that all of the youth had participated in some kind of gambling activities, while all of the parents believed their children had not done any gambling (Farrell, 2006). Typical remarks from parents when asked about their child’s gambling include:

Gambling ocus group parent quotes

Gambling focus group parent quotes 2

The report notes that “this father’s story was compelling to the rest of the group; for many parents in the group, it was the first time they had considered that teens can get into trouble gambling.” When asked about talking to their kids about risky behaviors, “parents ‘absolutely’ set rules about behavior with their children. Most common rules are about parties, curfew, drinking, drugs, sex, internet use, cell phone use. No one had set any rules around gambling; it simply did not occur to them.”

A study from the International Center on Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviors corroborates this phenomenon and points to the need to educate parents. The majority (66%) of parents report they “rarely” or “never” have conversations with their child about gambling; further:

Gambling isn’t high on the list of concerns parents have for their kids

serious youth issues

“When parents learn more about the potential risks of youth gambling, they do a better job of helping their kids make different choices about using their leisure time,” says Paul D. Potter, Manager of Oregon Problem Gambling Services. “When we hear parents say, ‘What’s the harm in kids playing poker? At least I know where they are. They could be doing much worse things.’, it tells us that they haven’t seen the real data,” said Potter. “If they did, they’d think twice.”

DeCode & Derevensky, J. et al (July 1, 2009). Parents as Partners Qualitative National Findings. International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviors, Montreal, Quebec. Farrell, P. (2006). Oregon Teens and Parents: Perceptions of Teenage Gambling. Oregon
Partnership, Portland, OR. Oregon Department of Human Services (May 29, 2008). Overall youth gambling down, but Internet’s lure draws concern. DHS reports news release, Salem, OR. retrieved from

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Category: Problem Gambling

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