Change Begins with Me
Gambling problems at schools. Turning the problem into an educational process

In many countries, gambling is a popular activity. There are many forms of gambling, both legal and illegal, offline and online casinos, and many people of all ages are involved in it. People gamble all over the world. Some of them are newbies who may occasionally indulge in harmless gambling, such as the purchase of lottery tickets, but the others become hopelessly addicted to gambling. The fact is that gambling gains popularity nowadays, especially on the Web.

Some young people are exposed to various types of gambling in the streets by their peers. But the majority of them prefer online gambling. A number of cross-platform online casino games grow on a day-to-day basis. And since there is no more need to download any apps to play games on any devices, online gambling has become more popular, especially among youngsters. Everyone at school has their own device with a stable internet connection and a free access to different gambling websites.


Traditionally children are the most progressive users of all new technological novelties, particularly in the gaming industry. Rest assured that every teenager has tried several gambling activities, like online slots, roulette, blackjack and poker, at least once. Only a few adults and adolescents are aware of the risks associated with excessive gambling. Gambling addiction is real, and it touches even mentally stable people. Loss of control over gambling behaviour can become a real problem - that's why gambling should be conscious.

While the vast majority of players will gamble only on occasion and just for fun, others, like younger players, will gamble excessively. They can even develop serious problems. Sometimes young players become preoccupied with gambling activities because of their dreams to snatch a large sum of money. Over-involved and neglecting their responsibilities and other activities youngsters can also run into various other problems. If you consider the fact that four to five percent of youngsters, in their twelve to seventeen, meet one or more criteria of having a gambling problem, it becomes alarming. Plus, another ten to fourteen percent of them are at risk of developing an addiction. Young people from these groups are already showing signs of losing control over their gambling behaviour. Young boys rather than girls of their age are more likely to be prone to gambling /or experiencing any problems connected with it. Despite the fact that young players are mostly people with excellent mathematical abilities, just interested in the work of algorithms, they should be careful and stand by some basic rules of self-control to maintain a stable mind and avoid problems.

So, we have gifted youngsters with a lot of energy, interest and willingness to gamble on the one hand. On the other hand, we can see a huge public concern about these young people. But for most teens and their parents, gambling is an innocuous behaviour with a few negative consequences. So, the solution to the school gambling dilemma is obvious. To take something under control, you need to legalize it. Poker, blackjack, slots and roulette will never be a problem in schools if school administration changes their zero-tolerance policy towards gambling. And one of the best things parents can do from their side to prevent a teenage gambling addiction is to be involved.

It is clear that signs of a pathological teen gambler and gambling addiction should be taught to students and their parents to avoid further potential problems with gambling among children. Pathological gamblers like the rush of gambling too much. Also, such gamers will try almost anything to stay in the game. They want to win "the big one" but will keep playing even when losing a lot. And here are some signs that a youngster may possess a gambling addiction: selling personal belongings and borrowing money without repaying, stealing and lying for gaming. Withdrawing from his or her regular social groups and activities is also a sign. Obsession with scores in sports can indicate a sports gambling habit.

But being involved is the best prevention of teenage gambling addiction from the parent's side. Roulette, blackjack, poker and slots are the most popular games parents can share with their children. For example, slots are the best game for time killing in a free mode. Nowadays, slots are designed like video games that create some random combinations of figures for its customers. They are usually bright and colourful, and some of them have specific themes like Wild West or history adventures.

Poker is suitable for playing with friends or for studying. At home, under the parents' control, it is a great social game. It is a fun fact that poker is the favoured game of James Bond, the fictional secret agent from Ian Fleming's novels. In one of the movies based on Fleming's books, agent 007 competes in a poker tournament. Here we get a fascinating idea for a themed birthday party for teenagers: tuxedos, cocktail dresses and poker. It is a great possibility to play with parents or at least under their control, parents in their turn can take a chance to tell children about Ian Fleming's books or series of films about James Bond.

Also, it should be mentioned that poker is a good material for learning some high-level math at school. Poker is a card game with specific rules. It varies in the number of cards in play and deck configurations, the number dealt face up or face down cards and the number shared by all players. There are ten hands in poker: Five of a kind; Straight flush; Four of a kind; Full house; Flush; Straight; Three of a kind; Two pair; One pair; High card. So, because of its high complexity and variability Poker is a great subject matter for math classes or even scientific research in the field of AI development. As an example of poker being a part of the scientific research, we have a story about a group of researchers who announced that they "essentially weakly solved" heads-up limit Texas Hold 'em with their development of a poker bot. In the article published in Science in January 2015, the authors claimed that their bot named Cepheus would lose at most 0.001 big blinds per game on average against its worst-case opponent. It means that the strategy of this bot is incredibly close to optimal. Cepheus probably can't be beaten with statistical significance within a lifetime of human poker playing.

Casino Roulette Online is a casino game where players have some variants to choose to place bets: a single number, various groupings of numbers, the colours red or black, whether the number is odd or even, or if the numbers are high. The winning number determines when a dealer spins a wheel and a ball in opposite directions. The ball eventually falls onto the wheel and into one of the coloured and numbered pockets on the wheel. Roulette is widely presented in the world culture. From novellas 'The Gambler' by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and 'All's Well with Bingo' by P. G. Wodehouse to movies 'Casablanca,' 'Run, Lola, Run' and others. Plus, besides its cultural influence, roulette is a complex mathematical model - that is of interest to study to the same extent as poker.

Vingt-Un, also well known as Twenty One or Blackjack, is one more example of a game suitable, both for pastime or studies. Just like poker and roulette, blackjack is widely represented in the media. We can remember 'The Hangover' comedy movie or legendary 'Rain Man' where the blackjack game was a central part of the plot, or the exciting movie 'The Gambler' with Mark Wahlberg. Blackjack is a comparison card game between one or more players and a dealer. But players do not compete against each other they compete with a dealer. Blackjack is played with one or more decks of fifty-two cards, and it is the most widely played casino game in the world. Because of its complexity, blackjack can be a great subject matter for math classes along with poker. Plus, it can be treated as an organized mind sport like chess. Blackjack can be played in tournament form - such tournaments are held all over the world nowadays.

As we can see, all popular games are widely represented in the media all over the globe. So, society and schools should define gambling as a normal pastime and draw the line when gambling becomes a problem. Social gambling is not a problem for children if they play with a set amount of money, and when it's gone, they are ready to finish. Sometimes youngsters want to have some fun without worries about money. The majority of online games provide free demo versions for this purpose. Youngsters themselves should avoid high-stakes games with large pots. Maybe children may play regularly, but with limits, of course. For example, playing once or twice a week, and only with friends. Or gambling can be used as a part of the learning activity like machine learning classes, or math or computer science. Also, parents can take their part in monitoring gambling teens. Letting youngsters know that they are welcome to have friendly poker games at home is a great idea that can even bring the family closer together. The fact that social gambling on occasion can be fun but that there are consequences like becoming addicted should be explained to every teenager.