Preventing Gambling in Teens

Many of the RGANM member casinos offer entertainment and dining options that youth are welcome to attend with their parents or guardians. Throughout New Mexico casinos, minors are prohibited from gambling, yet some still try to do so. Today’s youth have grown up with many online games that resemble gambling, which may put them at more risk of later having a problem with gambling. Studies show that people who start to gamble earlier in life are at a greater risk for developing gambling addictions.

Legal consequences in New Mexico for underage gambling can include misdemeanor charges and fines. Other consequences aren’t as tangible, but may include declining academic success, lack of interest in social and extra-curricular activities, anxiety and depression, and mounting debt. Gambling activity can also be associated with other high-risk activities among youth, like drug and alcohol use.

We encourage parents or guardians to talk with teens and even younger children. Here are things to focus on with teens:

  • Just like you talk to your kids about avoiding drugs and alcohol, talk to them about gambling as a potentially risky activity for youth. Let them know that gambling isn’t confined to just casinos; it can include buying lottery tickets, betting on sporting events, or playing online casino games.
  • Emphasize that gambling is not a way to make money; it is a form of entertainment, and just like other options, should be part of a budget that is not exceeded.
  • While teens may spend hours playing popular video games, they know they’ll still have a place to live and food to eat. Help them understand that if a person becomes addicted to gambling, the long-term consequences include financial troubles like not being able to pay bills, and other problems like damaged relationships with family and friends, even potential legal or employment problems.
  • Supervise online activity, apps and games. Monitor the sites your teen visits. Some use pretend money to wager, which can teach children the “high” of winning money. Be aware of online casinos, which have fairly lax verification systems. With older youth who may have access to a debit or credit card, review the bank statements and talk with your teen if any seem suspicious.


Young adults who’ve recently entered adulthood and can now legally gamble should remember that gambling is for entertainment only. Knowing how to set limits and when to stop are important markers.  Young adults should pay be aware of these early signs which may indicate that gambling is becoming a problem including:

  • Feeling like you need to “chase” a loss by continuing to gamble, or to increase a wager;
  • Missing classes or work to gamble;
  • Mood changes, depression or anxiety;
  • Gambling to escape your problems;
  • Lying about gambling;
  • Borrowing or stealing money to finance gambling.

If you do have concerns about your child and gambling, the sites below may be helpful. The Responsible Gaming Association of New Mexico work to educate about the need to keep gambling as entertainment, and to provide prevention and treatment. If you are concerned about gambling in your life or that of your family, see our resources on the Get Help page.

Helpful Links:

 “My awareness about gambling started when I was a child. In Navajo tradition, there are traditional games that involve some kind of wager. Nobody identified it as gambling. It was just a game… but it was how I got hooked on winning, and gambling.”  ~JJ Otero

Watch our 30-minute documentary on RGANM and the compulsive gambling resources that are available. 

Gambling Help Line

(888) 696-2440

Available 24/7

There Is Hope

“If you are dealing with addiction issues, if you’re dealing with gambling issues, I want to let you know that there is hope. First of all there are people, programs, resources that will allow you to share what you are dealing with; what you are going through. There are so many resources. Try them all and find something that works.”

~ JJ Otero

Warning Signs Of A Problem

Use these 10 questions to ask yourself if you might have a gambling problem:


    1. Lose time from work or family due to gambling?
    2. Gamble longer than you had planned?
    3. Gamble to escape worry or trouble?
    4. Have an urge to celebrate good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
    5. Borrow money to gamble or pay gambling debts?
    6. Neglect the welfare of yourself or your family due to gambling?
    7. Gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties?
    8. Make promises to yourself or others to stop gambling, only to return to gamble again?
    9. Sell or pawn personal possessions to get money to gamble?
    10. Gamble money that should be used for household bills (car payment, mortgage, utilities)?

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