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Teens playing social casino games at risk of developing a gambling problem

A recent study examined if social casino games are encouraging a gambling problem in young adults, and how it may be priming them for betting with a need for higher stakes and thrills.

Gambling is no longer an activity that has to be done at a certain physical location. Technological advancements now allow for social casino games that can be accessed through social media websites, gambling-specific websites, mobile devices, and more. Social casino games could be a gateway for young adults to transition into monetary gambling. This is because social casino games normalize behaviours associated with gambling and is also a training ground for gambling habits and skills.

Participating in social casino games can lead to personal distress and negative consequences for young adults in the future. It also creates a need for a higher level of excitement which is only satisfied through higher waging and winning at casino games. A study published in BMC Public Health conducted by The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Canada examined this aspect of online gambling and whether it may result in a gambling problem.

This study is the first one to do an empirical analysis of factors different social casino games. It examines a large sample of people from three Canadian provinces. The participants were 10,035 secondary school students between the ages of 13 to 19 years from grades 9 to 12. The researchers obtained parental consent and the study occurred after the legalization of online gambling in January 2015. All students were also notified that they could decline to participate in the study.

If respondents played sports pools, sports games, internet poker, or slot machines online in the last three months for money or something of value, they were coded as gamblers. The survey included participants from Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The results indicated that students who participated in social casino games are significantly more likely to participate in either online or land-based monetary gambling. They also found that 37-50% of the young people who did indulge in social casino games for money met the criteria for moderate or high-problem gambling habits. Also, 10% of teenagers who participated in gambling with money but not in social casino games scored as having a high degree of a gambling problem.

With high levels of screen time among young adolescents and the growing popularity of social casino games, these findings likely under-represent the use of social casino gaming among young adults today. Gender differences were also observed in the study, which includes the fact that females played more slot games or social casino games than males. Males were seen to prefer internet poker more. Understanding these differences allows researchers to tailor interventions appropriately when tackling issues such as a gambling problem.

Written by Sonia Leslie Fernandez, Medical News Writer

Reference: Veselka, L., Wijesingha, R., Leatherdale, S. T., Turner, N. E., & Elton-Marshall, T. (2018). Factors associated with social casino gaming among adolescents across game types. BMC public health18(1), 1167.



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