Young poker faces

Abstract

Gambling is an activity that can be performed on-premise (slot machines in casinos, bars and restaurants) or off-premise (scratch cards and lottery tickets). Although the addictive potential may depend on the specific gambling product, early onset increases the likelihood for future pathological gambling. To delay the onset of gambling behavior and to reduce gambling-related problems, many countries have introduced age limits that should decrease the availability of gambling products to underage individuals. In this study we evaluated compliance to the legal age limit, making use of a mystery shopping method. We distinguished between (1) off-premise scratch cards (n = 51); (2) off-premise lottery tickets (n = 49); (3) on-premise slot machines in casinos (n = 88); and (4) on-premise slot machines in the catering industry (n = 100), and we focus on the factors, such as characteristics of the establishment, buyer, and vendor, that may account for possible differences. The 288 visits demonstrate that gambling products are highly available and accessible to under-aged customers; young customers are still able to gamble despite the legal regulations. The compliance rates fluctuate and appear to be related to the specific gambling product in question. Furthermore, age verification activities and certain outlet- and buyer characteristics, as well as characteristics associated with the purchase attempt, may influence compliance.

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