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  Child gambling
Updated 09 August 2005, 11.03
Online gambling

PSHE 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Risks of behaviour

    Gambling websites are facing a crackdown to prevent kids as young as 11 from using their services.

    Students imagine how a young person could become addicted to gambling.

Learning aims
  • Learn a psychological explanation of gambling addiction.

  • Discuss the issues surrounding children being protected from gambling.

    Click here to read the story:

    Ideas for discussion:

  • Is changing the law a good way of protecting children from gambling online?
  • What else could be done to protect children?
  • Do you think children should be allowed to decide for themselves?
  • If you think children should be allowed to gamble, how much?

Main activity
    Divide the class into small groups and get them to try and agree answers to the following two questions:

    1. How does someone become addicted to gambling?

    Behavioural psychologists give this explanation:

  • When someone does something and gets a reward for doing it they are more likely to do it again. This is called 'positive reinforcement'.
  • Gamblers get their rewards randomly (called 'variable reinforcement'). This is a more powerful way in which a habit can be formed.

    Here's an example of how a gambling habit can start:

  • A boy wins some money on a fruit machine.
  • In real life, if he carries on he will continue to win 'every once in a while' even though he may be losing for most of the time. For instance, he may win 10 but lose 50 in the process.

    2. How can someone overcome their gambling habit?

    Ask students to produce an action plan to help someone overcome their addiction.

    Here are some suggestions:

  • Admit they have a gambling problem.
  • Get help from family and friends.
  • Contact a gambling counsellor.
  • The gambler has learned that if they gamble for long enough they will eventually succeed. This is very difficult to unlearn.

Extension activity
    On a positive note, students keep spending records for a week to keep track of where the majority of their money goes.

    The data collected could be presented as a survey and is a positive habit for students to adopt.

    Categories of spending could include:

  • food
  • clothes
  • cinema
  • games
  • hobbies
  • music
  • presents
  • donations

    Recap on the main teaching points and students present their opinions on the issues raised.

Teachers' Background
    A vending machine analogy can help explain the power of 'variable reinforcement' which makes gambling so addictive:

  • If you use a vending machine every day you expect to get something back when you put your money in.

  • If, on one day, you put your money in and get nothing back you'll soon stop putting money in.

  • With a fruit machine however, you don't expect to win every time, just every now and again. You never know if it'll take 'just one more go' before you'll win again.

    The founder of behaviourist psychology was BF Skinner (1904-1990). He was responsible for applying behaviour theory to real-life situations.

    The law on gambling currently states that:

  • Anyone under-18 is forbidden from going into a casino, betting shop, or amusement arcade with machines offering cash prizes of 10 or more.

  • If you are under-16, you can't buy a lottery ticket, nor can you collect winnings for anyone else.

  • Under-18-year-olds are only allowed into licensed bingo halls if they don't take part.

  • Gambling contracts cannot be enforced in law. If the loser fails to pay, they can't be taken to court - although the government is considering changing this.

      Successful money management includes keeping records of money spent.

      This includes having the skills to know how much money is available, how much money has been spent, and how much money must be saved for future needs.

      Students could be spending their money in these ways:

    • Sharing - church or charitable donations, birthday presents for family or friends.
    • Spending - toys, sweets, clothing items and entertainment.
    • Saving - on average 10 to 20% of pocket money should be put away to save for something that costs more than their weekly allowance.

      For all links and resources click at top right.

More InfoBORDER=0
UKCrackdown to stop kids gambling
UKChildren face gambling ban in arcades


Past StoriesBORDER=0
Can kids gamble?
Michael Owen isn't ashamed of his gambling


Web Links
Gamblers Anonymous
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