Adolescent gambling: Twenty-five years of research

Abstract

The landscape of gambling has dramatically changed during the past quarter century. Never before have there been such a multiplicity of types of gambling venues and ease of accessibility. All Provinces have multiple and diverse forms of legalized gambling with new opportunities on the horizon. Once thought to be relegated for adults, adolescents have been intrigued with gambling (defined as wagering money in order to win money) and have managed to find ways to gamble on agerestricted games in licensed/regulated venues as well as unregulated forms of gambling (amongst peers). What begins as an exciting benign form of entertainment for most can result in problems for an identifiable group of young people. A growing body of empirical research examining adolescent gambling and adolescent problem gambling has been amassed during the past twenty-five years. Drawing upon this body of literature, the authors address the many issues and correlates impacting adolescent gambling and problem gambling. Clinical and research evidence point to a host of associated academic, behavioral, personality, social, inter-personal, financial, criminal and mental health difficulties for adolescents experiencing gambling-related problems. Other issues discussed include a review of protective factors minimizing gambling-related harms and risks, assessment strategies for identifying youth with a gambling disorder, and ways to help adolescent problem gamblers. The authors suggest that adolescent problem/disordered gambling should be viewed from a public health perspective.

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