FTC Warns Consumers about Online Gambling and Children

Exposure to Ads and Easy Access to Age Restricted Sites Among Dangers Cited


Federal Trade Commission Chairman Timothy J. Muris today announced the results of an informal survey of websites to determine the access and exposure teens have to online gambling. The FTC visited over 100 popular gambling websites - and found that minors can, indeed, access these sites easily, and that minors are often exposed to ads for online gambling on non-gambling websites.

FTC staff found that the gambling sites had inadequate or hard-to-find warnings about underage gambling prohibitions, and that some 20 percent had no warning at all. The survey also found that these gambling sites had no effective mechanism to block minors from entering. Muris talked about the survey at a Roundtable discussion he hosted with Representative Frank Wolf. Other speakers included Rachel Volberg, Ph.D., a member of the board of directors of the National Council on Problem Gambling, and Marianne Guschwan, M.D., Chair, American Psychiatric Association Committee on Treatment Services for Addicted Patients.

"Our informal review of gambling websites, child-oriented sites, and non-gambling sites was a valuable education," said Chairman Muris. "Here's what we learned: Online gambling and kids is a bad bet."

The FTC wants teens and parents to understand the risks associated with kids gambling online:

You can lose your money. Online gambling operations are in business to make a profit. They take in more money than they pay out.

You can ruin a good credit rating. Online gambling generally requires the use of a credit card. If kids rack up debt online, they could ruin their credit rating - or their parent's.

Online gambling can be addictive. Because Internet gambling is a solitary activity, people can gamble uninterrupted and undetected for hours at a time. Gambling in social isolation and using credit to gamble may be risk factors for developing gambling problems.

Gambling is illegal for kids. Every state prohibits gambling by minors. That's why gambling sites don't pay out to kids and go to great lengths to verify the identity of any winner.


The FTC Consumer Alert "Online Gambling and Kids: A Bad Bet" is available at http://www.ftc.gov/gamble.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.


Contact Information

Cathy MacFarlane,
Office of Public Affairs
Eileen Harrington,
Bureau of Consumer Protection