Millennials and Gambling Addiction

Jan 13, 2017 | Behavioral Addiction, Blog, Gambling Addiction Treatment, Youth Addiction Treatment

Millennials do not gamble in the same way that their parents did, but this does not mean they have given up on the pastime altogether. If anything, new trends in gambling behaviour make it more important than ever for young people to be on guard against the dangers of gambling addiction.

Gambling Addiction in the Age of Millennials


  • The changing face of gambling addiction in Generation Y.
  • Millennials prefer different types of gambling than their parents, but gambling addiction is still a very real threat.

Millennials may not be risking their hard-earned money in the traditional gambling formats that appealed to their parents, but gambling addiction is still a very real phenomenon for teenagers and young adults born between 1980 and 2000.  We explore the potential for new variations of gambling addiction among an up-and-coming generation.

Changing Views on Gambling in Generation Y

Gambling and gambling addictions look different for millennials than for previous generations. For example, millennials shun traditional casino games like slot machines – to the extent that many casino operators admit to trying to ‘solve their millennial problem or ‘bridge the generation gap’.

In this case, the so-called ‘problem’ casino operators are dealing with is that millennial travellers, holidaymakers and gamers are not nearly as interested in playing the slots as their parents were.  One survey conducted in the US and paid for by several casino operators found that only 21 per cent of millennials rated gambling as an ‘important’ activity to them – compared to twice as many respondents from other age groups.

It is easy to imagine how much of a concern this is for operators of big casinos in places like Macau or Las Vegas. But for those who know first-hand just how destructive gambling addiction can be, news like this comes as a relief.

However, the situation may not be as cut and dry as it appears. Millennials may not be pouring their hard-earned money into casino slot machines, but this does not mean that they have given up gambling altogether. As it turns out, they just prefer a different type of gambling experience.

I Your Gambling Getting Out of Hand?

Skills-Based Gambling Presents Greater Risk of Addiction to Millennials

Young adults are not immune to gambling addiction. Rather, they are simply not that intrigued by the standard gambling formats that have been available up until now. This is a generation of experience seekers who are quite comfortable spending their cash on dinner, drinks and dancing, but less inclined to channel money into a slot machine if it does not entertain them in some fashion.

Enter skills-based gambling. Millennials are much more likely to participate in gambling-related activities if they feel that it tests their abilities in some way. This could be something as simple as hitting the right series of buttons in a row or as complex as calculating the odds of winning a hand of poker.

This has led casinos to embrace the ‘gamification’ of gambling in the hopes of creating a fuller gambling experience for millennial customers. From an addiction treatment standpoint, this helps us gain insight into the types of gambling formats that young people may be most at-risk of becoming addicted to.

Young Adults’ Gambling Addictions Develop Outside of the Casino

While casinos are looking for new ways to attract young gamblers to their facilities, those involved in gambling addiction treatment for young people are well aware that some millennials are finding their fix elsewhere.  One type of gambling is doing particularly well with millennials: fantasy sports gambling. From fantasy football to fantasy golf (to just about any other fantasy sport you can imagine), millennials are more than willing to gamble on this gaming experience.

Fantasy sports leagues are also a fast-growing online business – one that some commentators believe is set to change our culture and our laws. As this fledgling industry grows up and continues to cash in on millennials’ preference for gambling formats that test their mettle and are accessible to them online, it is entirely possible that we could also see a surge in gambling addictions.

How Gambling Addiction Resembles Internet and Gaming Addiction

For a generation of people who grew up with the Internet, it comes as no surprise that many are gambling online and using the Internet to connect with other gamblers. In fact, gambling addiction in millennials often goes hand-in-hand with other technology addictions like internet or gaming addiction. These various addictions are often intertwined and can even feed into each other.

For example someone who does most of their gambling on their smartphone may find themselves responding increasingly to the subtle rewards and cues that their phone gives them. On a long enough timeline, this can create or intensify an addiction to their smartphone as well. Even if they are not actively gambling on their phone, they may find themselves compelled to use and interact with the phone on a more and more frequent basis.

Even if an online gambling addiction sometimes resembles gaming addiction or internet addiction, it still poses unique risks. As with all forms of compulsive behaviour, gambling addiction can have pronounced effects on the one’s relationships as well as their work or academic performance. It also poses profound financial risks.

Any gambling addiction has the potential to lead to financial ruin. The more time, energy and money they spend funnelling their money into their gambling habits, the less they have for more important pursuits.  Financial stress is already surging among millennials, and gambling addiction threatens to make those problems even more pronounced.

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The Edge Can Help Millennials Struggling with Gambling Addiction

The struggles and habits of millennials are often misunderstood or misinterpreted by society at large. While major players in the gambling industry fixate on how to attract younger gamblers to their facilities, the addiction treatment professionals at The Edge have seen that many of their clients are already struggling with compulsive gambling. They are just feeding their compulsive behaviours through different channels.

If you or a young man that you care about is struggling with a gambling addiction, The Edge’s innovative addiction treatment programme can help. Our inpatient rehab treats the whole person and helps young men develop new, more constructive habits and behaviours through psychological counselling, group therapy and physical activity. Let us get in touch with you today.