LSAC Study Shows Low Percentage of Teens Gamble

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children on teenage gambling released this month showed one in six teenagers aged 16-17 gambled within the past year. The majority were boys, and the most often gambled at home. Very few placed illegal bets.

Even so, the results will help the Australian government and organizations dedicated to reducing gambling harm cater their programs accordingly.

Trustworthy Study

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) is a significant study that follows the development of 10,000 children and families across Australia. It began in 2003 in partnership with the Department of Social Services, Australian Institute of Family Studies, and Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The purpose of the study is wide in range and scope. But it focuses on topics such as parenting, family life, friendships, education, child care, and health.

Annual statistical reports provide a range of data, but research reports take a narrower path. For example, the LSAC released two reports in 2017, one examining the relationship between disadvantages and children’s cognitive and social outcomes. The other focused on the same outcomes for children who live in poverty.

The latest chapter of the larger study examined gambling activities among teenagers and their parents.

Broad Findings

The most recent release of information from the LSAC provided important teenage gambling information about the gambling habits of 16-17-year-olds in Australia.

Approximately one in six of them reported that they gambled in the past 12 months. More boys are gambling than girls. And those boys tended to be involved in bullying at school, either as the victim or the bully.

A larger number of the older teens admitted to playing gambling-like games in the past year. The breakdown is, 24% of boys and 15% of girls.

Teens who gambled were more likely to have also smoked or drank alcohol or associated with other teenagers who did so.

For the teens who responded, it seemed that 65% of their parents reported to have gambled in the past year. However, 90% said they were not problem gamblers.

AIFS Comments

The media release from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) about the LSAC study offered more details, context, and comments.

AIFS Director Anne Hollonds expressed concern that one in five boys and one in eight girls (aged 16-17) did spend some money on at least one gambling activity in the past 12 months. Most of those activities, however, were in private with family or friends and consisted of card games.

Especially concerning for Hollonds was the number of teens – about 5% of participants – who bet on sports games and horse and dog races. This is despite the age restriction of 18 and older. Additionally, approximately 9,000 teenagers spent money on poker machines, casino table games and/or keno, again despite the age restriction. That number equates to only 2% of participants.

The report noted that the key factors influencing teenage gambling were the environments in which family and friends associated.

Researcher Dr. Rebecca Jenkinson said, “The study found that teenagers were more likely to gamble if they or their friends engaged in risky behaviors such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or using cannabis. On the other hand, they were less likely to gamble if their friends had a positive attitude towards academic achievement and were interested in doing well at school”.

Parental gambling also had an effect. Of the gambling teenagers, 17% lived in households in which one or both parents gambled at some time over the past year. But non-gambling parents produced only 11% of the teenagers who gambled.

Teenagers who played video games with gambling-like characteristics were also a factor for teenagers who gambled. Although, this is more so for the girls.

General Takeaways

Dr. Jenkinson was particularly interested in the gambling-like games teenagers played and their connection to some sort of transition to commercial gambling.

Other notable reactions pointed to the gender differences and parental gambling activities. Also, how any teenagers were able to bet on sports or play pokies without producing a valid piece of identification.

Moreover, though, Jenkinson will be examining the report in detail to suggest policies and programs that might address the issues of note. Jenkinson said that some of those suggestions may include putting more limits on gambling marketing and the availability of machines and games.

Another likely suggestion by Jenkinson will likely pertain to the need for stricter enforcement of ID requirements for players. This includes land-based gaming or betting venues or for online gambling apps and websites.

As for the larger picture, Jenkinson was disturbed by quotes from the teenagers, especially one from an immigrant teenager. “As long as you gamble,” he said, “you feel like an Australian.”

The idea that part of the Australian identity is so intertwined with gambling is problematic on the larger scale. Jenkinson will likely address it in future proposals.

Rose Varrelli

Rose Varrelli has always been passionate about online casinos, as she's been a player at a variety of places for years. Rose turned her personal knowledge and insight into a writing career. She aims to provide readers with the most up to date, informative news in the world of online casinos!

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