Online gambling increasing in teenagers: study

Teens are gambling online at a significantly higher rate than previously reported, a new Canadian-study has claimed. Nearly 10 per cent of teens in three Canadian provinces said they had gambled online in the past three months, according to researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Of all adolescents surveyed, 42 per cent reported that they had gambled money or something of value in offline (land-based) gambling or online gambling.

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).

“A substantially high proportion of young people are gambling in general, and mostly in unregulated forms, like in a dare or a game of pool, which are accessible to youth,” said Tara Elton-Marshall, scientist at (CAMH).

“The high proportion of teens who are gambling in any form is concerning because there is research to suggest that the earlier people start to gamble, the more likely it is to be an issue later on,” said Elton-Marshall.

The findings come from 10,035 students in grades 9 to 12 (aged 13 to 19) who completed the 2012-2013 Youth Gambling Survey in schools in Canada. Most adolescents participating in many forms of gambling were not of legal age to gamble.

Online gamblers were adolescents who reported gambling in online sports pools, Internet poker or Internet slot machines.

The higher rates of online gambling may partly be due to the fact that adolescents were asked about online sports pools, which may not have been considered a form of gambling by teens responding to previous surveys about online gambling.

Among these adolescents, 36 per cent had a score indicating a potential gambling problem on a scale measuring problem gambling, versus 8 per cent among offline-only gamblers.

Problem gambling severity scores were calculated based on responses to questions, such as how often they missed activities like team sports or band due to gambling/betting.

“While we do not know why adolescents who also gamble online had higher problem gambling scores, we also found that adolescents who were also gambling online were more likely than offline-only gamblers to participate in multiple forms of gambling,” said Elton-Marshall.

“This suggests that young people who are also gambling online are individuals who are seeking out a range of gambling experiences, which could put them at greater risk for problem gambling,” she said.

Teens also participated in free simulated forms of gambling online, including free poker websites and gambling games on Facebook. The study was published in the journal BMC Public Health.