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“Not 18 Yet? No Bet”: Identifying and Treating Teenage Gambling Addiction

The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) proudly supports the New Jersey Lottery as they renew their vow to promote responsible play and spread awareness of New Jersey gambling law. On August 16th, the NJ Lottery held an event with the CCGNJ at an ACME in Hamilton Square, NJ, where they announced the commencement of their yearly “Not 18 Yet? No Bet” campaign.

At the CCGNJ, we are committed to helping anyone struggling with gambling addiction, whether it is their own or that of a loved one. We strive to offer support, treatment, and hope to everyone, from underage teens buying scratch-off tickets in Trenton to retirees addicted to racetrack wagering in Freehold, NJ. In the spirit of the NJ Lottery’s campaign, here are some tips for recognizing potential warning signs of gambling addiction in your teen.

Excessive or Strange Financial Habits

Does your teen have a surprisingly large amount of money on hand? On the flip side, are they always scrambling to raise more? Perhaps they have begun to sell personal belongings. Maybe they have even been caught stealing. These can all be signs of a disordered gambling habit.

Erratic Behavior

Understandably, sudden changes in eating or sleeping habits in your teen raise concerns. Additionally, mood swings, anxiety, or ceasing to take part in activities they once enjoyed can point to addiction, as can dramatic changes in their friends.

If you have noticed any of the aforementioned behaviors, and if your teen frequently talks about gambling or has a surprising amount of knowledge about it, they could very well be developing a problem.

Family History

Does your family have more than a passing familiarity with addiction? A tendency towards addictive behaviors can predispose your teen to similar issues. This applies even if there is a trend of only substance abuse in the family. Early exposure to gambling can also increase the probability of a gambling addiction.

Gambling is omnipresent in our society. It is not inherently bad – many enjoy it safely and responsibly, and plenty of people can play the slots or partake in sports betting in Atlantic City without developing an unhealthy relationship with gambling. Nevertheless, campaigns like the “Not 18 Yet? No Bet” strive to promote awareness of the law and help the public better understand and support those with an addiction.

If your child or another loved one is starting to exhibit signs of gambling addiction, we can help. Our hotline, 1-800-GAMBLER, operates 24/7. We can also be reached via text or on our website, http://800gambler.org. Our services will always remain completely confidential. Remember: it is never too late to reach out for support, treatment and hope.