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gambling information

When it comes to gambling, we often think of it as a harmless pastime but in reality, gambling can quickly get out of control and can seriously affect your life.

Gambling is everywhere – from walking past betting shops on main streets, to our favourite football teams being sponsored by gambling companies.  It is all around us, and we may not realise how much it impacts our daily lives. 

To better understand exactly what gambling is, lets look at the definition of the word.

Risking money or something of material value on something with an uncertain outcome in the hope of winning additional money or something of material value.


How do people gamble?

Most people go to a betting shop to gamble or buy lottery tickets in person, but with advancements in technology people can now bet with their phones, tablets, laptops and even on smart TV's. In fact, you can gamble on your PlayStation, Xbox and other gaming devices and you might not even know you're doing it! 

What is considered gambling?

  • Card games

  • Dice games

  • Electronic games/Fruit machines (puggies)

  • Betting on sporting events (horses, football etc)

  • Lottery tickets

  • Raffles/Tombola

  • Bingo

  • Coin pushing machines

  • Online / Mobile games

  • Scratch cards

Did you know?

The legal age to gamble in the UK is:


Online Gambling

It's now easier than ever to access gambling websites and apps.  Even though you have to be 18+  to gamble in the UK, some people may sign up using an incorrect date of birth.  However, if you were to win, the website would not pay out as they check your ID at this stage and you would be underage.  This could lead to a police investigation.


There are loads of terms and conditions to read when making a new account with any website.  They may tempt people to sign up by offering free money to bet with, but it is very rare that they will pay out if you win using their “free” money.  This is normally stated in the terms and conditions, but as people don’t tend to read the terms and conditions in detail, it goes unnoticed. 

Problem Gambling

So when does gambling become a problem? 


Problem Gambling is defined as:

“Gambling that disrupts or damages personal, family, or recreational pursuits.”

So that means when your gambling starts to affect other areas of your life, such as school, your job, your ability to pay your bills or relationships with friends and family, then it may have become an issue.

Remember: When the Fun Stops, Stop.

Problem Gambling - Spot The Signs

  • Spending more money and time on gambling than you can afford

  • Finding it hard not to gamble

  • Having arguments with friends or family about money/gambling

  • Always thinking or talking about gambling

  • Lying about your gambling or hiding it from others

  • Gambling until all your money is gone

  • Needing to gamble with larger amounts of money to get the same thrill or buzz

  • Neglecting school, work, or other commitments because of gambling

Did you know?

As of 2013, gambling was classed as an addiction in the UK

Fact or Fib?

Do you think the statements below are a fact or a fib? Hover over them with your mouse to find out the answer.

Gambling isn't addictive.


Gambling can be just as addictive as cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.


Scientists and researchers have found that gambling releases a hormone in our brains called dopamine, or the “feel good” hormone.

Dopamine is released when we eat, have sex,  take drugs or do something we enjoy.


People like the feeling that dopamine gives them and will do the activities that releases dopamine again and again, which could lead to addiction.

You have to gamble for years to become an addict.

Someone who is addicted to drugs might find that their body has built up a tolerance, meaning they need larger amounts of the drug to get the same high. 

It’s the same with a gambling addiction! 

Addicts need to place higher stakes and bigger bets to satisfy the dopamine craving coming from their brains.  Addiction can happen quickly and most people are not aware that they are becoming addicted. 


Using someone else's money to gamble with is OK.


Using money that is not your own is never OK, unless that person gave you the money and knows what you will be using it for. 

People who win a lot of money will be happy forever.


Ever heard the saying “money cant buy happiness?” It’s true!


Winning the lottery may make you feel good for a while, but it doesn’t last forever. 


The problems that people face don’t  just disappear when they win some money. They have the same problems as they did before they won; they just have a bigger bank balance now!

CASE STUDY: Jane Parks

Jane was just 17 years old when she won one million pounds on The National Lottery.  In this short interview she talks about the day she won, and the pros and cons of having such a huge bank balance.

Gambling & The Law

It is important to know your rights if you choose to gamble, and whether the type of gambling you choose to do is legal for your age group.

Legal Age to Gamble in the UK is 18 years old – This applies to gaming centres, betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, racetracks and online gambling. 

National Lottery minimum age is 16 years old – This age limit is set by the government.  There are other exceptions like low stake gambling and prize bingos, as well as football pools and some games in amusement arcades. 

Teddy grabbing and coin pushing machines have no minimum age limit – The machines in amusement arcades have no age limit and are open to anyone.  However, you will still lose more than you will win – even in machines aimed at children.

You can use our quick-reference table below to check the legality of your gambling.

Harm Reduction

We recognise that some people may enjoy gambling. However, the information below is to encourage you to make more informed choices when you gamble. It has been written in order to make you think about your gambling habits and to stay a little safer.

Things to do when gambling:

  • Expect to lose - and treat any wins as a bonus.

  • Set a money limit and stick to it - Make sure your limit is affordable and don’t go over it. You can also inform the betting shops and casinos of your limit.

  • Set a time limit and stick to it - It can be very easy to lose track of time in a betting shop or casino, so setting alarms on your phone is a great way to make sure you leave when planned.

  • Only use cash – Don’t use your bank card to gamble, as it can be a lot harder to keep track of how much you are spending.

  • Keep a balance in your life – Find other hobbies and interests that are not gambling-related.


  • Don’t gamble alone – If you are going to gamble in a casino or betting shop, take a friend or family member along.  If you are alone, you are likely to lose track of time and spend a lot more time and money gambling. 


  • Become educated about the warning signs of problem gambling  - Know what signs to look out for, not only for yourself but for your friends and families sake too. 


  • Tell the truth about your gambling – Don’t lie about your gambling when asked, as that can indicate you may have a problem.


  • Understand the game  - Make sure you fully understand the rules of any game you are playing when gambling.


Things NOT to do when gambling:

  • Don't believe you will win – You are more likely to lose than win, so believing you will win may leave you disappointed.

  • Don't borrow money to gamble – If you don’t have spare money to gamble, then borrowing from someone else is not the answer. 

  • Don't drink alcohol when you are gambling to stay relaxed  - Alcohol can lower our inhibitions and cloud our judgement, meaning we may take more risks than we would do when sober. 

  • Don't gamble without a break - Taking regular breaks is important to make sure you have not spent too much time or money gambling.

  • Don't gamble as a way to cope with bad feelings – You should never use gambling as a coping technique when you are not feeling yourself.  There are other ways to manage your feelings that are a lot for effective than gambling. Click here for links to local support. 

  • Don't practice gambling strategies on free websites – Although free, this can start bad habits could be the beginning of addiction.

  • Don't keep playing until you get lucky – By the time you do win, you could already have lost a lot of money.

  • Don't try to win back lost money - It’s always best to cut your losses and move on, than to try and win back money you have lost.  You will end up spending more and there is no guarantee you will win. 

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