Underage Gambling: How to Protect Minors in Ontario
Even though gambling is legal in Ontario, anyone who wants to participate must satisfy a few key conditions. One of the main requirements is that participants must be at least 19 years old.
Those who are not of legal age are considered underage, which means they cannot legally participate in gambling activities. Operators face severe repercussions if they provide their services to minors and if they fail to provide responsible gambling tools. Punishments can range from fines to the suspension or revocation of their gambling licence.
So, how do online gambling operators ensure that their customers are not under the legal age? This is where KYC comes into play. KYC, or Know Your Customer, is a mandatory process through which regulated online casinos are legally required to confirm the age, identity, and place of residence of all players.
Providing the operator with a copy of your driver’s licence, passport, or another piece of government-issued photo ID proves your age and identity. In most cases, a bank statement, utility bill, or other document bearing your current address and full name will verify your place of residence.
Identifying whether a minor is engaged in gambling activities can be challenging. However, there are certain signs to be aware of, including:
- Falling grades
- Diminished interest in social activities
- Becoming more aggressive, irritable, or anxious
- Noticeable changes in the amount of money your child possesses
- Your child frequently asking for or even stealing money from family or friends
- Regular discussions or positive references to various gambling activities
- Secretive behaviour or visible irritation when asked about potential problems
Given modern technology like smartphones and VPNs, preventing a child from accessing gambling platforms can be a challenge. Nevertheless, here are some steps that can help reduce the likelihood of your child developing a gambling problem:
Engage in an open dialogue about the pitfalls of gambling. Break down the mechanics of gambling in understandable terms and explain the inevitability of house advantage.
#2. Website Blockers and Parental Controls: Various apps and computer programs effectively restrict access to certain sites, like online casinos. Some internet providers can even offer these restrictions without any additional downloads. Notable gambling-related website blockers include:
#3. Online Casino Account Security: If you maintain an online casino account, ensure your login details and other sensitive information, like credit card details, are stored securely and out of your child’s reach.
#4. Promote Healthy Screen Time: Implement consistent rules regarding screen time, covering duration, device-free zones, and permissible websites. Encourage outdoor activities that don’t involve electronic devices. And remember, leading by example is the best approach.
Underage gambling presents significant risks, both immediate and long-term. While the excitement of gaming might appeal to younger individuals, the consequences they face are severe.
Tools such as KYC procedures safeguard the integrity of the gaming industry, but the primary responsibility falls on guardians and educators to prevent early exposure.
Through proactive measures, honest dialogues, and a deeper understanding of the signs, we can create a safer environment for our youth.
Ultimately, informed decisions and collective efforts are essential in ensuring the next generation’s well-being in the gambling context.
No. While the legal age for casino gambling and sports betting is 19 in Ontario, other provinces like Alberta and Quebec have set the legal gambling age at 18.
Underage gambling poses several risks. The most significant is the heightened probability of minors developing problematic gambling behaviours in adulthood. Other associated risks include social disinterest, Financial challenges, behavioural changes, and mental health concerns, including depression.
In Ontario, while you must be 19 to gamble in casinos or bet on sports, you can play lottery games at 18.
Young adults, specifically those aged 18-24, are the most vulnerable to developing problematic gambling habits.
If someone under 19 is caught gambling in Ontario, they might face a fine, although this is rare. Operators found accommodating underage gambling are subject to more stringent penalties, from fines to licence suspension or revocation.
The consequences of underage gambling span a broad spectrum, from financial difficulties and substance abuse to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.