students in classroom

Youth Gambling Awareness Program

Promoting Healthy and Informed Choices.

The YMCA Youth Gambling Awareness Program (YGAP) is a free service funded by the Government of Ontario offering educational prevention programs to youth and adults involved in young people’s lives on gambling awareness including potential risks, making informed decisions and healthy and active living.

Prevention begins with awareness

YGAP provides a multi-faceted and innovative approach to problem gambling prevention through outreach, community education, and community awareness activities like community involvement events and youth engagement projects.

YGAP’s work in the community includes a variety of tools fitting the needs of individuals and communities:

Awareness Raising Activities

YGAP offers awareness raising programming in French and English for youth ages of 8-24 as well as adults, parents and professionals. Content of youth workshops are developmentally appropriate, interactive, fun and engaging for classroom, community centers, and camp settings. Workshops can be booked individually, or as a series.

For more information, please click on the following:

  1. Elementary workshops available 
  2. High School workshops available
  3. Post-Secondary workshops available

Click here to learn why it's important to talk about gambling and youth.

Youth Engagement Projects

Youth driven initiatives are key in promoting youth expression and community action related to youth gambling. With a very impactful peer-to-peer model, Youth Engagements have become one of the staple elements of YGAP over the years.

Community Involvement Projects

Partnerships and collaboration with community organizations to plan and implement events designed to promote community awareness and involvement in issues related to youth gambling are included in each of the YGAP sites.

Community Health Fairs/Events

YGAP partners with local education and treatment service providers, local youth services agencies and mental health & addiction services and is a constant presence at community health fairs and information events continuing the program mission to promote healthy active living, informed decision making and education and prevention of youth problem gambling.

Please contact YGAP in your area if you’d like to invite us to a health fair or event!

Referral Services

“23% of youth know someone who may be experiencing problems with gambling” (YGAP Impact Study, 2016). Each YGAP participant is provided with information and referral to treatment services and other community resources that can help with a potential gambling problem, as a method of further reaching the individuals who might require such help without asking for disclosure of problem gambling issues in front of peers.

Research and Development
  • Impact Study - YGAP Awareness Workshop (15-18 age group)
    The purpose of this project was to conduct preliminary evaluation of YGAP awareness workshops among youth 15-18 years of age and assess its impact on awareness of potential risks, recall of low risk practices, reduction of misconceptions, awareness of help resources and decreased stigma associated with gambling. Due to this project, success factors of YGAP workshops as well as areas for improvement were identified and future target populations and prevention/education topics were determined.
  • Literature review: Reducing Public Stigma Towards People with Gambling Problems
    YGAP identified the need to deepen the organizational knowledge and understanding of stigma related to gambling. The project aims were to review key scientific literature, assess public stigma associated with problem gambling and program’s Youth Outreach Workers’ training needs to effectively address stigma in their work and develop a YOW training module as well as materials to help YOWs target stigma reduction in gambling awareness workshops.
  • Literature Review: Developing Target Prevention Skills for Youth Engagement
    Developing target Prevention Skills: This report reviews and analyzes youth gambling prevention programs that have been evaluated and published in peer-reviewed journals to identify critical education topics, and targeted skills; understand the learning from evaluations regarding program content (gambling awareness education and non-gambling related skills), program structure (duration, mode of delivery, delivery agent) and program effectiveness and recommend target skills and other program structure to aid in the development of effective future youth engagement curriculum in gambling education/prevention programs.
  • Stigma and Gambling Awareness
    This report details the development process of an evidenced-based stigma awareness tool targeted at youth, as well as a list of considerations for implementing a social media campaign for stigma reduction.
  • Gambling & Media: How has media changed the gambling industry and why should we be talking about it?
    Technology and media have evolved tremendously over the past several years, which has had an incredible impact on many industries, including the gambling industry. This article outlines the various ways that gambling activities and gambling advertising techniques have evolved in recent years and how these changes impact youth in particular. The current regulations in Ontario are reviewed and opportunities for further regulation are explored.
  • Gambling & Gaming during COVID-19: Prevalence, Implications and Strategies to Stay Safe
    The global enforcement of social distancing measures that began earlier this year has eliminated many common sources of entertainment. How then have individuals been keeping themselves engaged during this time? This article outlines the increased participation in online gaming and gambling, how these opportunities have changed as a result of COVID-19 and how these activities have specifically impacted youth. The article also explores strategies to stay safe during this time.
  • How Youth Brain Development Impacts Risk-Taking in Youth
    Learning about a topic as complex as youth brain development can often seem overwhelming. However, having accurate knowledge related to youth brain development can help us to better understand the young people we work or live with and prepares us to better support them. In this article, YGAP shares the basics of brain development and explores how brain development during adolescence influences behaviors, including risk-taking behaviors.
  • Bitcoin and the Problem Gambling Connection
    Part one
    Part Two
    These articles are part of a two-part series exploring an emerging topic: Bitcoin. Part one introduces terminology that is necessary in order to effectively explain what Bitcoin is. Part two investigates the nexus between digital currency and problem gambling, and includes suggestions on how to stay safe if one chooses to gambling or purchasing cryptocurrencies.
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Beyond Betting Audio Series

The "Beyond Betting" audio series tackles the topic of player packs in video games such as Madden, Fifa, NBA 2K. Player packs are an in-game feature added to game modes in some video games. Player pack openings are completely random and include an element of risk when using real money or in-game currency to purchase them. The first installment in the series features harm reduction strategies and real-world advice for people playing these types of video games.

Beyond Betting: Part 1


YGAP office locations in Ontario

Contact the youth outreach worker in your area to book a presentation and learn more about the program:

(519) 965-9335
(519) 766-2842
(289) 260-8635
(613) 530-7617
(519) 854-8300
(289) 213-4869
North Bay
National Capital Region
Owen Sound
(519) 854-8300
Sault Ste Marie
(613) 715-4046
Thunder Bay
(416) 625-8388
Toronto East and Durham Region (GTA East)
(416) 627-9997
Toronto West (GTA West)
(416) 303-9695
Windsor Essex
(519) 965-9335
YMCA of Greater Toronto

Book a free interactive awareness-raising workshop today!

YGAP workshop options include a variety of offerings to align with the mandate of the gambling education and prevention. The common denominator amongst these tools is the fluidity of the content, always improving to stay relevant and up to date.

Desired Workshop(s)
Age of Audience
What’s At Stake? Gambling Awareness for youth ages 8 to 14

An interactive workshop aimed to encourage youth to explore the topic of gambling while determining the differences between playing games and gambling. Youth experience the consequences of winning and losing, experiment with probability, identify risks associated with gambling and learn how to stay safe and make informed decisions. 60 to 90 minutes

What’s At Stake? Gambling Awareness for youth ages 15 to 24

An interactive workshop that encourages participants to explore the concept of gambling through investigation into odds and randomness and the impact they have on winning and losing. Individuals learn about the various traditional and new forms of gambling, while gaining relevant knowledge in relation to harm reduction and making informed and healthy choices. 60 to 90 minutes

Gambling, money, and decision making (Financial Literacy) for youth ages 9 to 14
Gambling, money, and decision making (Financial Literacy) workshop use an age-appropriate style, aimed to increase students’ awareness of the risks involved in gambling and the importance of making informed financial decisions. Through a series of activities, students will be invited to explore personal finances, budgeting and money management. 60 to 90 minutes.
Gambling, money, and decision making (Financial Literacy) for youth ages 15 to 24
Through a series of activities and discussions, participants explore the fundamentals of financial literacy, budgeting, spending, borrowing and saving as they relate to gambling. Gambling, money, and decision making (Financial Literacy) workshop aims to enhance participants’ awareness of the financial risks and implications of gambling and dispel myths about money and gambling. It invites participants to apply informed decision making and critical thinking skills in games of chance and explore the concepts of needs vs. wants, comparison shopping and being a wise consumer as they relate to responsible gambling. 60 to 90 minutes
Game-Bling: When Gaming Meets Gambling - Technology for youth ages 11 to 14
An interactive workshop that explores the blurred boundaries between online gaming and gambling. Through interactive games, participants explore the connections between technology and gaming/gambling, risks associated with online gaming as well as strategies to make safe and healthy decisions when dealing with this rapidly expanding industry. 60 to 90 minutes
Game-Bling: When Gaming Meets Gambling - for youth ages 15 to 24

The Game-bling workshop aims to develop and enhance critical thinking by exploring the impact of technology on the gambling market, the blurred lines between gaming and gambling and underage ‘gambling’ opportunities (e-sports, fantasy sports, ‘gambling’ in videogames, skin betting, etc.). In this workshop, warning signs of problematic behaviors including excessive video gaming, technology use, social gaming and gambling are discussed. Harm reduction strategies and support resources are provided. 60 to 90 minutes

Media Impact: Media Literacy for youth ages 11 to 14

This media literacy workshop aims to enhance critical and creative abilities in relationship to the media. This multimedia workshop provides opportunity to view, analyze and discuss a wide variety of media text.

Media Impact: Media Literacy for youth ages 15 to 18

The Media Literacy Workshop aims to develop/enhance critical thinking in relation to the media and advertisements. The workshop explores marketing techniques and a wide variety of media content, including gambling advertisements and invites participants to question the objective and impact of media content and advertisements. 60 to 90 minutes

Play It Safe! Health & Physical Education for youth ages 8 to 14
Through a variety of physical activity and interactive games, this workshop aims at teaching positive decision making and healthy living skills focusing on youth gambling and related issues. This presentation is to be conducted in a gymnasium or outside on a grass field. 60 to 90 minutes
Stigma and Gambling: for youth ages 15 to 24
This workshop is designed to address the stigma surrounding problem gambling and its consequences. It explores the myths, misconceptions, assumptions and feelings towards people experiencing problems with gambling and the impact of stigma on help seeking behaviors. The stigma and Gambling Addiction is a module aiming at lowering public stigma and increasing positive attitudes towards treatment by addressing the nature of problem gambling as an addiction and facilitating discussions on language, attitudes and behaviors towards people with gambling problems as well as ways we can help to break stigma and support recovery. 60 to 90 minutes
Prevention Begins with Awareness: Workshop designed for parents, teachers, and adults involved in young people’s lives

Learn more about the changing world of gambling and the risk to young people. Youth today are growing up in a society where gambling is legalized, easily accessible, actively promoted, glamourized and generally presented as harmless entertainment. We offer 60 to 90 minute workshops for the following topics:

  • What’s At Stake? Gambling Awareness
  • Gambling, money, and decision making (Financial Literacy)
  • Media Impact: Media Literacy
  • Game-Bling: When Gaming Meets Gambling
  • Stigma and Gambling

Want to be more involved?

In addition to awareness raising workshops, YGAP provides other opportunities for youth and community members to become more involved by offering:

Youth Engagement Initiatives
Each year, Youth Outreach Workers facilitate youth driven initiatives to promote youth expression and community action in regards to gambling awareness. Youth driven initiatives are key in promoting youth expression and community action related to youth gambling. With a very impactful peer-to-peer model, Youth Engagement Initiatives have become one of the staple elements of YGAP over the years. Do you work with a group that would benefit from a Youth Engagement Project? Contact the Local Youth Outreach Worker in your area for more information!
Community Involvement Events
YGAP Community Involvement Events are designed to promote community awareness and involvement in issues related to gambling. Partnerships and collaboration with community organizations to plan and implement new and exciting event designed to promote community awareness and involvement regarding youth gambling issues are included in each of the YGAP sites. For more information on Community Involvement events in your area or to discuss partnering with YGAP please contact the local Youth Outreach Worker in your area.
Community Health Fairs/Events

YGAP is invited to participate in various community events and school fairs. These events allow YGAP to increase community awareness of youth gambling and harm reduction. We create interactive booths to deliver accurate information to the community. Please contact the YGAP Youth Outreach Worker in your area if you’d like to invite YGAP to a health fair or event!

Advisory Committee

YGAP Advisory Committee is an integral part of YGAP across the province. Committee members are volunteers who work cooperatively with YGAP by offering advice on areas such as potential networking and partnership opportunities, information about the local community and gambling trends, feedback on activities to be included in workshops, and helping to raise awareness of the program in the community. Committees are typically made up of youth service providers, addiction and mental health service providers, educators, credit counselors, and youth. What are the benefits of participating as an YGAP Advisory Committee Member?

  • Committee members have the opportunity to network and share resources that benefit their agency, clients and community as a whole
  • Committee members have the opportunity for professional collaboration and goal sharing
  • Committee members have the opportunity to discuss community issues related to youth and brainstorm action items

If you are interested in becoming a member please contact your local YGAP Youth Outreach Worker.

Why Talk to Youth About Gambling?

  • Gambling patterns start as early as 8 years of age and can be established before adolescence.
  • Children and adolescents commonly engage in legalized and self-organized gambling activities at home and in school.
  • The earlier people start to gamble, the more likely it is to be an issue later on.
  • Although problem gambling has been primarily thought of as an adult behaviour, gambling activities appear to be particularly attractive to today's youth. In fact, prevalence studies conducted in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Europe, and Australia have noted rising prevalence rates of youth involvement in both legal and illegal forms of gambling.
  • According to a study by researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the University of Waterloo, 42 per cent of all adolescents surveyed reported that they had gambled money or something of value. Popular gambling activities included: a dare or challenge (22 per cent), instant-win or scratch tickets (14 per cent), games of skill, such as pool or darts (12 per cent), offline sports pools (9 per cent), and cards, such as poker and black jack (9 per cent).Technology has made gambling accessible to youth everywhere
  • Nearly 10 per cent of teens said they had gambled online in the past three months.
  • 36 per cent of online gambling teens had a score indicating a potential problem (versus eight per cent for offline gamblers).
  • Youth need to understand and know their choices before facing risky situations.
  • Gambling problem prevalence among youth is 2-4 times higher than the adult population.
  • Youth with gambling problems tend to report higher rates of substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • Suicide attempts for individuals impacted by problem gambling occur at twice the rate of other addictions.

Need More Information?

For more information, please click here. Download the YGAP program brochure. (PDF). To learn more about YMCA Youth programs call 416-928-9622 or 1-800-223-8024 or contact us at

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