Nearly 10 per cent of teens in three Canadian provinces said they had gambled online in the past three months, according to a new 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 find such high levels of online gambling among youth.
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," says Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, Scientist in Social and Epidemiological Research at CAMH and first author of the study, which was published this month in BMC Public Health. "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."
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 Ontario, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Most adolescents participating in many forms of gambling, with the exception of gambling on lottery tickets and instant-win or scratch tickets, were not of legal age to gamble.
The growth of online gambling
Online gamblers were adolescents who reported gambling in online sports pools, Internet poker or Internet slot machines. While the study did not ask where teens were gambling online, venues could include unregulated offshore gambling websites or informal forums set up among friends and peers, says Dr. Elton-Marshall.