The unsettling issue that's come about over teens and sports betting apps.

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
Thanks to our brand partner, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation

For most people, the visual picture of a gambler is someone playing the pokies, or at the casino. But according to a recent study led by Deakin University, three out of four children who watch sport are making a strong association between enjoyment of a game and putting money on the result, meaning that the person we typically think of as a ‘gambler’ is getting younger.

This might sound shocking to many parents, but considering the advent of online betting and phone apps, which make gambling easier than ever, it makes sense, because it seems to be everywhere.

Louise Glanville, CEO of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation warns that it’s something parents need to think about earlier than they expect, before habits become ingrained.

“Kids think betting and sport go together. We are working with sporting clubs, schools and individuals in the community to call out this new normal and allows us to talk about the potential risks involved with gambling,” Glanville tells Mamamia.

To help parents, the organisation has a campaign titled “Love the game – not the odds“, designed to inform and encourage parents to break the association between the enjoyment of watching sports, and putting money on a game.

“You might not think your child is associating the enjoyment of sport with betting on the result – but research shows, they may well be,” Glanville says.

“The concern is that research shows the prevalence of sports betting advertising normalises the idea of gambling to young people – and this needs to change.”


According to the VRGF, up to 80 percent of 13 to 17 year olds have gambled. This includes gambling with friends, playing lottery tickets, raffles and sweeps.

Despite age checks in venues and online, teenagers also gamble on the pokies, racing and sports betting, with 12.2 percent of 12 to 17 year olds having placed a bet or gambled for money or prizes on the internet.

The VRGF also reports the following statistics:

  • 75 percent of kids aged 8 to 16 who watch sport think betting on it is normal.
  • 75 percent of kids aged 8 to 16 who watch sport can name one or more sports betting companies.
  • 25 percent who watch sport can name four or more.
  • Around 25 percent of young people have participated in sports betting.
  • One in five adults with a gambling problem started gambling before 18 years of age.

The “Love the Game” initiative is a resource for parents, sporting clubs, schools, and the community to understand and prevent the impact of gambling advertising in sport on young people, and the potential risks involved with gambling.

In 2018, for the first time, all 10 Victorian AFL clubs are on board, signing up to our Love the Game Charter and pledging a commitment to reduce exposure of their fans and members to sports betting.

“We need to show kids how to revelling in the moments that make sport great,” Glanville says.

Explaining that it’s also important for parents to demonstrate that when a child is legally able to, gambling in moderation is possible, Glanville adds that the initiative isn’t about banning gambling – but adopting a healthy attitude to it.

“This starts with reducing exposure to betting advertising.”

The VRGF website explains that teens can also face a lot of peer pressure from each other to gamble.

“Like the other peer pressure issues of the past drinking, smoking, sex they may well assume everyone is doing it more than they actually are,” Glanville explains.

Glanville adds that undoubtedly, new ways of gambling – and thus easy access to it – are changing the way young people think about sport. It’s a real concern – as parents we can’t always assume we know what they’re doing on their phones.


As the VRGF website puts it: “Commentators often talk about the odds instead of key information like player form and team injuries, so it’s not surprising when we hear teenagers follow suit. And when they see their sporting heroes endorse betting agencies, who could blame them for thinking gambling is a normal part of enjoying sport, when really it’s an unnecessary extra that should be approached with caution.”

Glanville advises that because, as all parents know, prevention is better than cure, being aware of the issue is the first major step in opening a conversation between parents and children.

“It could be good to take a look at what your child is playing with on their device – and where gaming mimics gambling,” Glanville warns.

The VRGF recommends monitoring your child’s internet usage, and installing blockers where appropriate, as well as encouraging teens to have non-tech based interests.

“If your child doesn’t understand the boundaries you want to put in place, at least they know where you stand,” says Glanville.

“The same goes for gambling discussions. It’s important for them to know your concerns, because hopefully they will hear that voice when they need to make their decisions about betting.”

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Have you seen children and sports betting culture at play in your life? What’s your take on it? Join the conversation below.


Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation

Kids think betting and sport go together. The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation works with sporting clubs, schools and individuals in the community to call out this new normal and allows us to talk about the potential risks involved with gambling. Let’s help our kids Love the Game, not the odds.