A survey of fruit machine gambling in adolescents

Abstract

Fruit machine gambling among children and young people in the United Kingdom has attracted increasing interest. Since 1985 a number of questionnaire surveys have been conducted attempting to assess the incidence of adolescent fruit machine use and to explore its relationship with delinquency. Data yielded by these surveys have been somewhat inconsistent. Estimates of the prevalence of fruit machine gambling have varied considerably and there is disagreement over its association with deviant behaviour. Researchers have drawn divergent conclusions with different implications for legislation. In the present study, questionnaires were administered to 1,395 11–12 year old and 14–15 year old school children in the Birmingham area. Although for the majority, fruit machine gambling was found to be an infrequent activity involving fairly small amounts of money, a small but significant proportion were found to be gambling often and spending in excess of their income. There was also evidence to suggest that arcades may serve as venues for undesirable activities.

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