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Australian National University Finds Gamer Teens More Likely to Gamble

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The Australian National University (ANU) has released a report claiming that loot boxes in video games and sports betting are the most popular online gambling activities among young adults in the ACT. Many of them start gambling before turning 18. The research involved interviews with 38 individuals aged 18 to 25 about their online gambling behavior.

Video Gaming the Gateway to Gambling

ANU Associate Professor Aino Suomi, the lead author, found that the majority started gambling through video games in their early teens. Video games that integrate social elements, such as Counterstrike and League of Legends, include gambling features and are available to all ages, and the study found that often they were where people were first exposed to gambling.

Suomi noted that many young gamers are annoyed by these gambling features but feel compelled to engage with them to progress in the game. These features, akin to slot machines, sometimes require real money, which can be easily spent through a parent's credit card or gift vouchers.

The social aspect of gaming also encourages some young adults to gamble in order to improve their standing within a game or due to peer pressure. Advertising and endorsements by influencers, who often stream their gambling experiences, also play a significant role in promoting gambling among the youth.

Related: Loot Boxes – Gaming Entertainment or a Gambling Hazard

Plentiful Opportunities to Gamble

The report also explored traditional online gambling, with most young adults engaging in sports betting through mobile devices, especially during significant sporting events like NRL and AFL matches, horse racing, and international soccer tournaments.

Suomi stressed that those who gamble regularly can always find opportunities, as there is always a sporting event taking place somewhere in the world. Similar to video gaming, sports betting is often viewed as a social activity.

The findings point to the need for enhanced educational efforts targeting both young people and their parents about the risks associated with gambling and video games. Additionally, it called for the development of more resources and programs aimed at preventing harm and providing early warnings to young gamblers.

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