Children and young people’s gambling: Research review

Abstract

Implications:

- There is relatively little public information about, or awareness of, the potential risks associated with underage gambling in relation to other risk taking behaviours such as alcohol and drugs. Greater emphasis needs to be put on raising teachers’ awareness of gambling in teacher education training and in establishing prevention programmes to address gambling with young people similar to those used in relation to other ‘risky’ behaviours.

- Gambling prevention programmes for families need to take account of, and address, the gendered nature of parental attitudes and behaviours.

- The consistent pattern of relatively high rates of problem gambling among young people across a range of national contexts with variable legislative frameworks cast doubts on the effectiveness of regulatory frameworks in influencing rates of problem gambling amongst young people. The evidence from countries where young people’s access to gambling is more tightly regulated than in the UK is that these regulations are difficult to enforce and that young people subvert them and gamble regardless of the law.

- In the light of the prevalence rate for young people’s problem gambling and the limited success of regulatory and enforcement regimes, problem gambling should be recognised as a potential public health issue – with young people the group at most risk.

- A public health model of gambling would involve (i) challenging the normalisation of gambling (ii) preventative policies (e.g. public education) which might better equip young people with the skills to understand the potential negative impacts of gambling; and (iii) a harm reduction strategy (including specific treatment programs aimed at young people).

- Modelling tools need to be developed to enable schools where there is likely to be a prevalence of problem gambling to be identified so that specialist public health resources can be effectively targeted.

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