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Will young people accessing online gaming cause issues with gambling in adulthood?

August 30, 2018 5:00 PM
By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

Slot machine (By Esp1982 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons)In a 2017 study, the gambling commission found that 12% of 11-16 year olds gambled in the past week. This represented a drop of 25% on 2016 when the same survey found 16% had gambled. Of those young people, 24% first gambled using fruit machines, 21% using National Lottery scratchcards and 11% placed private bets with friends. The main source of gambling activity in young people is therefore unlikely to be online gaming, and gambling activity seems to be dropping overall.

That said, 11% of young people play online gambling style games where money can be spent but there are no winnings. 11% also participate in the rising trend of betting in game items, where items such as character skins can be used on betting sites to win other items or money. The effects of these new trends are harder to measure, as the people experiencing them have yet to reach adulthood.

There have been studies however that have investigated the effects of social casino style games on the likelihood that individuals will gamble. These studies are based on sample sizes of around 500, whereas the gambling commission study looked at just under 3,000 people. Like the gambling study they rely on self-reporting, which can reduce the likelihood that the answers given by participants are accurate.

These studies found that 20% of adult social casino games players reported gambling because of playing these games. This included people vulnerable to gambling problems. Among adolescents, two thirds reported gambling having played a social casino game. The studies also found that those who pay to participate in such games are more likely to gamble as a result. This suggests that young people may be more susceptible to problem gambling in adulthood having played social casino games, especially if they've spent money on them.