Gambling & Young Adults

Find out why 18-24 year olds are at a high risk of developing gambling problems, the risks of intoxicated gambling and how to spot the signs.

People between the ages of 18-24 are at a high risk of developing gambling problems. At this age, the brain is still developing and emotion and logic aren’t fully formed. This means that decision-making ability hasn’t yet matured, making young adults more likely to take risks or act impulsively.

Facts about young adults and gambling

  • Online gambling is one of the strongest predictors of gambling problems in young adults (Responsible Gambling Council, 2016.)
  • Players 18–20 years are significantly more likely to have chased their losses and bet more than they could afford in the past (Ibid.)
  • Gambling participation typically increases during adolescence and peaks in young adulthood, when risk for gambling problems is also increased (Delfabbro, King, & Griffiths, 2014; Volberg et al., 2010).


of young people aged 18–24 in Ontario have gambled (Responsible Gambling Council, 2016)


of young adults have reported a gambling problem in the last 12 months, with a higher rate among young men (Ibid.)


of video game players have made in-game purchases (Ibid.)

Intoxicated Gambling is a Bad Bet

Gambling when drunk or high can be costly for anyone, but especially for those between the ages of 18-24 who are at the highest risk of experiencing harms from gambling.

Gambling while high or drunk can lead to impaired decision making and increased risk taking (Curran et al., 2002; Welte et al., 2004) which in turn can mean playing longer and spending more than intended, placing larger riskier bets and generally losing more money or causing harm to personal relationships (Welte et al., 2004).

Did you know, people with a gambling problem are significantly more likely than those without problems to report gambling while high or drunk (Martins et al., 2010; Welte et al., 2004)?

18-24 year olds have high rates of various potentially risky behaviours:

  • Young adults have a higher prevalence of past-month alcohol use, binge drinking, heavy drinking, and alcohol use disorder compared to those over 25 years (Ahrnsbrak et al., 2017).
  • At the same time, rates of past year cannabis use are high, at 41% among 16-19 year olds and 45% among 20-24 year olds (Government of Canada, 2017).
  • Also 22-40 year olds are more likely than other age groups to gamble while drunk (Welte et al., 2004).

Learn the low-risk strategies that can help keep gambling safe and fun.

Early warning signs of a gambling problem:

  • Skipping classes or work to gamble
  • Spending less time with friends or avoiding family events to gamble
  • Lying about how much time and money is spent gambling
  • Poor nutrition, health and sleep
  • Borrowing and/or stealing money to gamble
  • Increased drinking and/or drug use
  • Thinking about gambling frequently

The similarities between gaming and gambling

The link between online gambling and gaming is fast becoming blurred. Both are accessible from the same devices, a smartphone or computer, have elements of skill and chance, and are visually stimulating. Recently, gaming platforms have begun to incorporate “gambling-like” elements, like loot boxes, which are considered a form of gambling in some countries.

If you’re aged 18 to 24, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for about gambling.

Get the inside info on how gambling affects us, including how gambling can be riskier for young adults like you.

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Help for Loved Ones

If you know someone who is displaying behaviours consistent with those that point to a gambling problem, find out how you can help them.

Find out how

Teens and gambling

Studies show that teens are gambling in some form long before they reach the legal age limit.

Get the Statistics

Prevention programs for young adults

If you’re a student or young adult, interested in learning more about responsible gambling, attend an education program.

Education Programs for Young Adults

Get help for a gambling problem

There’s a treatment centre ready, willing and able to help you.

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