NSW Young People Exposed to Gambling at 11-12

The New South Wales Office of Responsible Gambling released the results of its latest study in January 2021, this one focusing on the young people. The NSW Responsible Gambling Fund commissioned the research, which resulted in the NSW Youth Gambling Study 2020.

Gambling habits change with the introduction of new technologies, which this study reflects. The most startling fact is that young people tend to begin simulated gambling and monetary gambling at 11-12 years of age. While the types of gambling have changed from traditional forms to things like loot boxes, the concerns remained the same: problematic and at-risk gambling.

Survey Overview

The NSW Office of Responsible Gambling wanted to examine gambling in the worlds of young people from 12-17 years of age in New South Wales. The research aimed to answer four primary questions:

  • What is the nature and prevalence of gambling amongst young people aged 12-17 years old in NSW?
  • What is the nature and prevalence of simulated gambling amongst young people aged 12-17 years old in NSW?
  • What are the factors that influence youth gambling attitudes and behaviours?
  • What is the nature and extent of the convergence of gaming and gambling?

It’s important to note that researchers defined gambling as risking something of value on a game of chance, hoping to win a more valuable prize. Simulated gambling, on the other hand, offers many of the same gambling features with the prominent exception of a cash payout. Even so, loot box purchases and in-game purchases are sometimes a part of simulated gaming.

Much of the research started in September 2019 with 16 focus groups and 104 total participants between 12-17 years old. A follow-up online survey reached out to the same demographic but took place between March and May 2020 amongst 2,220 young people.

Bottom Line Findings

While there are some interesting details within the report, one of the most interesting findings was that young people tended to start traditional gambling and simulated forms of gambling at about 11-12 years of age. And parents had the most influence on their gambling habits.

  • 8% participated in gambling, 21% in commercial gambling
  • 5% claimed problems with gambling, another 2.2% considered at-risk
  • 7% of gambling occurred with parents or guardians, 26.8% with friends of similar age
  • 1% gambled alone
  • 1% participated in simulated gambling
  • 1% noticed gambling advertising on television at least weekly

A number of factors influence youth with relation to gambling. First is their personal characteristics, such as decision-making tendencies and psychological well-being. Second is familial, especially parental, influence, including everything from the nature of the parent-child relationships to parental problem gambling history. Peer influences were also important, as young people will often follow a group participating in gambling-related activities.

Environmental influences on youth include access to gambling and simulated gaming activities, and the frequency and prevalence of media advertising on social media sites, television, and other websites.

The full 279-page report is online.

Startling Comments from Focus Groups

Some comments from young people in the focus groups indicated that using a false age online or accessing accounts with the help of adults presented many gambling opportunities. Land-based gambling venues often don’t check identification. Many young people gamble with family and friends, however, in situations like keno at restaurant tables and families getting on races together.

  • “If you want to get on that website, you can falsify your age so easily.”
  • “All my mates are bogans; they just go down to the local pub. They don’t bother to check.”
  • “There’s pokies everywhere (at Circular Quay). No places care about ID.”
  • “Dad put a bet on for like horses in the Melbourne Cup. We’d like pick our horse or whatever.”
  • “I know my boyfriend sometimes goes to the pokies, but he’s 18. Sometimes, even on his lunch break, he’ll put in $20 and then win $200.”
  • “I feel like when you’re in a group, especially if like your mates are going to play something on the pokies or stuff like that, you kind of like go along with them anyway.”

With regard to simulated games, many interviewees noted that they can easily buy skins and perks and often did so due to peer pressure and the desire to garner status in the games. Some parents monitored their children’s spending on such items, though other young people found ways around that.

Statistics from Letterbox Surveys

Regarding gambling participation in the 12 months leading up to the date of the survey:

  • 8% gambled with money on at least one activity (females at 32.1%, males at 27%)
  • Ages 15-17 gambled at 38.4% rate versus 21.4% of 12-14-year-olds

When asked about lifetime gambling, the numbers were much higher:

  • 4% gambled with money on at least one activity (females at 47.3%, males at 39.4%)
  • Ages 15-17 gambled at 54.3% rate versus 32.9% for 12-14 age group

Broken down by types of gambling, these were the results:

  • Informal private betting: 11.4% in past year, 4.2% in last month, 1.5% in last week
  • Scratchies/lotteries: 8.8% in past year, 1.7% in last month, 0.5% in last week
  • Bingo: 5.3% in past year, 0.6% in last month, 0.1% in last week
  • Keno: 4.2% in past year, 0.5% in last month, 0.4% in last week
  • Race betting: 2.7% in past year, 1.4% in last month, 0.3% in last week
  • Sports betting: 2.8% in past year, 0.7% in last month, 1% in last week
  • Pokies: 1.1% in past year, 2.2% in last month, 0.3% in last week
  • Casino games: 2.1% in past year, 0.3% in last month, 0.3% in last week
  • Fantasy sports betting: 1.7% in past year, 0.3% in last month, 0.5% in last week
  • Esports betting: 1% in past year, 0.1% in last month, 0.4% in last week
  • Poker: 0.4% in past year, 0.3% in last month, 0.8% in last week

When asked at what age young people first gambled on certain activities, the numbers were notable:

  • Informal private betting: 0% at 0-4 years old, 18% at 5-9, 28.8% at 10-12, 39.8% at 13-15, 13.3% at 16-17
  • Scratchies/lotteries: 1.4% at 0-4 years old, 12.3% at 5-9, 40% at 10-12, 30.2% at 13-15, 16.1% at 16-17
  • Bingo: 2.7% at 0-4 years old, 10.7% at 5-9, 25.9% at 10-12, 51.5% at 13-15, 9.2% at 16-17
  • Keno: 2% at 0-4 years old, 22.5% at 5-9, 38.4% at 10-12, 28.3% at 13-15, 8.8% at 16-17
  • Race betting: 8.7% at 0-4 years old, 27% at 5-9, 25.8% at 10-12, 25.7% at 13-15, 12.9% at 16-17
  • Sports betting: 1.9% at 0-4 years old, 2.2% at 5-9, 32.5% at 10-12, 37.7% at 13-15, 25.7% at 16-17
  • Pokies: 13.4% at 0-4 years old, 0 at 5-9, 23.2% at 10-12, 45.4% at 13-15, 17.9% at 16-17
  • Casino games: 7.8% at 0-4 years old, 13.5% at 5-9, 20.3% at 10-12, 31.6% at 13-15, 26.8% at 16-17
  • Fantasy sports betting: 11.8% at 0-4 years old, 0 at 5-9, 19.7% at 10-12, 42.3% at 13-15, 26.3% at 16-17
  • Esports betting: 0 at 0-4 years old, 9.3% at 5-9, 18.1% at 10-12, 67.4% at 13-15, 5.2% at 16-17
  • Poker: 16.4% at 0-4 years old, 0 at 5-9, 38.7% at 10-12, 16.6% at 13-15, 28.3% at 16-17

The percentages of youth who gambled for real money live or online (or both) in the past year were:

  • Sports betting: 9.7% live, 65.8% online, 24.6% both
  • Fantasy sports betting: 10% live, 76.5% online, 13.5% both
  • Esports betting: 11.9% live, 88.1% online, 0 both
  • Poker: 17.6% live, 82.4% online, 0 both
  • Race betting: 51% live, 28% online, 21.1% both
  • Casino games: 62% live, 38% online, 0 both
  • Pokies: 65.6% live, 24.5% online, 9.9% both
  • Bingo: 90% live, 7.2% online, 2.9% both
  • Scratchies/lotteries: 92.1% live, 3.6% online, 4.3% both
  • Keno: 93.3% live, 6.7% online, 0 both

The average money spent on gambling in the past 12 months was:

  • Pokies: $19
  • Race betting: $10
  • Scratchies/lotteries: $10
  • Keno: $10
  • Bingo: $14.80
  • Poker: $34
  • Casino games: $13.30
  • Sports betting: $20
  • Esports betting: $20.80
  • Fantasy sports betting: $43.4
  • Informal private betting: $14

Finally, the money the youth used for gambling came from:

  • Pocket money: 60.4%
  • Money from a gift: 38.4%
  • Money earned from a job: 33.5%
  • Money from parents for gambling: 31.3%
  • Money from parents for something else: 15.7%
  • Money borrowed with permission: 13.8%
  • Money from selling their own belongings: 13.3%
  • Other: 7.1%
  • Money or items stolen: 4.6%

There is so much more in the report itself. The research details, results, and conclusions are all in this document from NSW Responsible Gambling.


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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