Youth gambling: A critical review of the public health literature

Abstract

To date, there is a paucity of all but prevalence-based research addressing adolescent gambling behaviour. The majority of research has adopted an epidemiological approach which has demonstrated that gambling is a common and peer approved activity amongst adolescent populations. Epidemiological research on adolescent gambling has been mostly conducted within a 'dysfunctional' based paradigm, and as such has focused upon the risks and subsequent problems associated with gambling. There is an abundance of correlational data suggesting that adolescent at-risk and problem gamblers are more likely than other adolescents to for example: be male; have a higher disposable income; belong to an ethnic minority; have parents who have gambling or other addiction issues; initiate gambling at an early age; However, it must be noted that these relationships are not explanatory, nor are they well understood. Little is known about the underlying mechanisms, or the causal nature of these relationships. Overall, research into adolescent gambling has not addressed issues such as the role of gender and ethnicity. These issues need to be investigated, as does the validity of screening tools such as the SOGS-RA.

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