Teenagers are gambling online at a substantially higher rate than formerly reported

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Nearly 10 percent of teens in three Canadian provinces said they had wagered online in the previous three months, according to a brand-new research study by researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the University of Waterloo. It’s the first Canadian-based study to discover such high levels of online gambling among youth.

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Of all teenagers surveyed, 42 percent reported that they had gambled money or something of value in offline (land-based) gambling or online gambling. Popular gambling activities consisted of: a dare or challenge (22 percent), instant-win or scratch tickets (14 per cent), games of ability, such as pool or darts (12 per cent), offline sports pools (9 percent), and cards, such as poker and black jack (9 per cent).

“A significantly high proportion of young people are gambling in basic, and mainly in unregulated types, like in an attempt or an online game of pool, which are accessible to youth,” says Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, Scientist in Social and Epidemiological Research at CAMH and first author of the research, which was published this month in BMC Public Health. “The high proportion of teenagers who are gambling in any type is worrying because there is research to recommend that the earlier individuals start to gamble, the more likely it is to be a concern later on.”

The findings come from 10,035 students in grades 9 to 12 (aged 13 to 19) who finished the 2012-2013 Youth Gambling Survey in schools in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Most adolescents taking part in numerous types of gambling, with the exception of gambling on lotto tickets and instant-win or scratch tickets, were not of legal age to gamble.

The growth of online gambling

Online gamblers were teenagers who reported gambling in online sports swimming pools, Internet poker or Internet slot machines. While the study did not ask where teenagers were gambling online, places could include uncontrolled overseas gambling websites or casual forums established amongst pals and peers, says Dr. Elton-Marshall.

The higher rates of online gambling may partly be discussed by the fact that adolescents were particularly inquired about online sports swimming pools, which might not have actually been considered a form of gambling by teens reacting to previous studies about online gambling.

Reasons for issue

The research, the very first to use an issue gambling scale developed particularly for teenagers, revealed possible factors for issue, particularly associated to adolescents who were gambling both online and offline.

Amongst these teenagers, 36 percent had a score showing a possible gambling issue on a scale determining issue gambling, versus 8 per cent among offline-only gamblers. Issue gambling severity ratings were determined based on reactions to nine questions, such as how typically teens missed out on activities such as team sports or band due to gambling/betting.

“While we do not understand why teenagers who also gamble online had greater issue gambling ratings, we also discovered that adolescents who were likewise gambling online were more likely than offline-only gamblers to participate in several forms of gambling,” states Dr. Elton-Marshall. “This suggests that youths who are also gambling online are individuals who are looking for a variety of gambling experiences, which could put them at greater threat for issue gambling.”

Teens likewise participated in totally free simulated kinds of gambling online, consisting of totally free poker sites and gambling games on Facebook.

The rapidly changing world of gambling

“The gambling landscape is moving so rapidly in regards to innovation and the expansion of gambling experiences,” says Dr. Elton-Marshall.

Four provinces – Ontario, B.C., Manitoba and Quebec – have also legalized online gambling. This research study provides a baseline of teenagers’ online gambling behavior prior to the January 2015 launch of Ontario’s PlayOLG Website, which is strictly managed to make sure individuals are 18 years or older.

“Continuing to evaluate how the expanding and developing gambling landscape is affecting youths is critical to help prevent gambling issues,” says Dr. Elton-Marshall.