Although occasional trips to the casino can make for a fun divergence from day-to-day living, all too often folks find themselves drawn back there day after day until they’re indebted and depressed. For those of us who have had a challenging time with gambling in the past, or who are struggling to get away from it even now, we will want to ensure our children never go through this.
“Even those who have never been to a casino and likely never will can still become addicted gamblers because of the proliferation of gambling websites.” –Dr. David Hodgson
Let’s talk about some ways to approach teenagers about the dangerous allure of gambling and why it’s important we keep ourselves in check when we play. Although it will be a few more years before they’re legally admitting in, thank goodness, it’s never too early to set a good example. (As the old saying goes, “if we don’t talk to our kids, who will?”)
Gamble loudly, but not frequently
Time spent at a casino should be kept to a minimum. Rather than developing a hobby around the activity, young people should treat it as a yearly or bi-yearly event where friends get together for an hour or two and try their luck. Suggest that they combine it with other activities as part of a birthday celebration or while attending a wedding. They’ll have fun with their friends for a short while and then they’ll have fun somewhere else.
Gamble smartly, but not expensively
Parents know teaching teens about how to manage their finances can be a full-scale curriculum. Budgeting is a big part of that most absurd of modern words, “adulting”, and budgeting one’s spending money can be that much harder. Needless to say, it’s necessary that your teenager understands the difference between cost-of-living and whatever’s left over before you even approach them about being cautious at a casino. Once that’s out of the way, you have a clear line to set boundaries on how much they should be comfortable taking with them.
One of the best things we can do when we gamble is to bring a set amount of cash with us and leave the rest out of reach. The sooner you drill this tactic into your son’s or daughter’s mind, the savvier they’ll be at the slot machines. “Although any kind of gambling can become addictive, video slot and poker machines are the most seductive because they offer the greatest escape.” psychologist Robert Hunter elaborates.
Gamble socially, but not competitively
Since you’ve told your teen why it’s a good idea to bring some friends, you should also emphasize with them how everyone can watch one-another’s backs while they’re there. Whoever they go to the casino with, it had best be people they trust — and, if possible, people who you trust, too. If they’re away at college, you’ll need to accept that they’re growing up and you can’t keep a constant eye on them anymore, but good parenting always leaves an indelible impact — believe in them to make mature decisions in their socializing.
At any rate, so long as they’re in with a good bunch and hitting up the Hard Rock infrequently, they’re already off to a good start. Advise them to keep respectable tabs on how the bets are coming along in their social group, and to have them see about the team working together in a pact to make sure no one gets in over their heads. Having someone there with us to offer not only words of encouragement but words of caution as well can be an invaluable tool.
Gambling should never be about betting against one-another to see who wins big, either. It’s us against the house, and your teen needs to understand that. Competition between friends is perfectly healthy, but it sometimes leads to overspending at casinos thanks to increasingly desperate bids to outperform friendly rivals. This is a slippery slope philosophy and it ought to be avoided at all costs. So “If your gambling addiction has led to severe social, medical, legal and/or financial difficulties, you may need to find an inpatient program to give a jumpstart to your treatment.” Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., a licensed psychologist and marriage and family counselor suggests.