On-line gambling begins at young age for some

"What do you know about gambling and children?” asks Roxanne L’Esperance of BC Responsible and Problem Gambling Program

A small group attends the workshop “Betting on Your Child’s Future: Parents are Partners in Gambling Prevention” on Thursday afternoon Feb. 2, at the high school.

“What do you know about gambling and children?” asks Roxanne L’Esperance. She is the local service provider for the BC Responsible and Problem Gambling Program and presenter of the workshop. L’Esperance is contracted to provide prevention programs that raise awareness about gambling addictions. The BC Responsible and Problem Gambling Program is gambling neutral and their service is free.

She provides some interesting facts. Did you know that less than half of the parents ever discuss gambling issues with their teen and that only 13 per cent of parents believe that their teen actually gambles for money? Reality is that approximately half of the underage youth in BC gamble and they start at the average age of 13.

“Gambling always has an unpredictable outcome and when a bet is made it cannot be reversed,” Roxanne L’Esperance explains. The difference between video games and gambling is that video games actually improve skills where gambling does not. Yet, a lot of children think that practice in gambling can improve their chances of winning and that if they know what they are doing, they can win.

Drugs and alcohol are often made more important than gambling. However, youth gamble more often than they use alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes because it is easy to access and their awareness about the risks is not as high. Also, their brain is still maturing and they are in a stage of risk taking and experimentation.

Reality is that kids from all social backgrounds gamble at home, a friend’s house, or school with friends, family, relatives, and siblings. In most cases, their parents will actually buy their lottery tickets. They play cards, sports betting, lottery, and the Internet, where most money is spent in on-line gambling.

“Gambling is part of our society and it is not going to go away,” Roxanne warns. “Youth are exposed to gambling now more than ever before and they think it is normal.” Fortunately, children also indicate that they would turn to their parents for help if they ever experienced problems with gambling. That is why parents play a crucial role in educating their kids about gambling and its risks of addiction.


The workshop is one of several put on during a Community Wellness Day put on by the community outreach program at Clearwater Secondary School.

– Margot Venema