In 2020, the NSW Office of Responsible Gambling commissioned a study to examine the link between young people and gambling. The results are now public, so I’ve listed some of the more notable conclusions for your reading enjoyment.

The study examined both gambling and simulated gambling among those aged 12 to 17 years. By increasing their understanding of the subject, researchers hope to minimize gambling-related issues.

Conducting Research

Two stages of research were conducted with NSW youths from ages 12 to 17. First, 16 focus groups with 104 participants were held in eight locations across the state. There were focus groups aimed at Vietnamese and Chinese participants, as well as two with Indigenous participants.

Secondly, an online survey was conducted among 2,200 young people. This took place from March 28th to May 11th, 2020.

Drawing Conclusions

The data from this study makes it possible to draw a number of conclusions about underage gambling in NSW. For your convenience, the most notable facts and/or suppositions are listed below.

  • Young people in NSW tend to begin monetary and simulated gambling at around the same age (11 to 12 years).
  • In 2020, young people engaged in simulated gambling more than traditional forms.
  • All individual forms of simulated gambling were more popular than most forms of gambling, with private betting being an exception.
  • Those who participated in simulated gambling were more likely to try regular forms of gambling.
  • Problematic gambling was more frequent than problem/at-risk gambling.
  • It was discovered that parents are the greatest facilitators of youth gambling. Factors included gambling with parents, receiving parental approval for gambling, or growing up with an adult who’s a problem gambler.

Gambling in the Previous Year

Of those who participated, 29.8% admitted to gambling in the previous year. Meanwhile, 21% participated in commercial gambling (excluding private betting).

2.2% of these gamblers fell into the at-risk category. Another 1.5% were considered problem gamblers.

The majority of gambling (53.7%) took place with a parent or guardian present. This was followed by friends 17 or younger (26.8%), relatives 18 or older (20.7%), relatives under 18 (20.1%), and grandparents (19.5%). Only 9.1% of participants claimed to gamble alone.

Cool teenager gambles at an online casino

Of those who gambled in the last year, here’s some more interesting data:

  • The most popular form of gambling was private betting (17.1%). Next came scratchies/lotteries (11%), bingo (6%), and keno (5.1%).
  • 17% gambled in the last month, while 16.5% had gambled in the last week.
  • 24.9% had placed bets online.
  • 60.4% funded their gambling with pocket money.

Game with Gambling Components

While the youth of NSW have to guard against problem gambling, there’s evidence that problem gaming (aka video game addiction) is just as dangerous. 40.1% of participants had played some form of game with gambling components in the previous year.

To help you better understand, the phrase “game with gambling components” includes the following:

  • Games with gambling components on social networking sites
  • Gambling-themed apps from an app store
  • Video games with “mini” gambling components
  • Free games on real gambling apps or websites

31.7% had played video games with a “mini” gambling component in the previous year. Respondents noted that this element of gameplay had increased substantially in recent years. In most cases, some form of gambling takes place to allow the player to (1) gain lives (2) obtain free items (3) earn in-game currency.

Loot Boxes

Loot boxes are here to stay, with 72.2% of participants having opened or purchased a loot box in the previous year. So what are they? Well, according to one Internet definition, they are “features in video games which may be accessed through gameplay, or purchased with in-game items, virtual currencies, or directly with real-world money. They often appear as chests, crates, or card packs.”

A survey of Australian youth found that around one-third had spent money on loot boxes, usually at a rate of around $10 per month. The most common reasons for obtaining these items included:

  • To serve as in-game currency
  • Achieve an advantage or in-game progress
  • To get in-game items or “skins” (the latter often refers to alternate costumes or looks for a character)

At first glance, loot boxes seem straightforward. You pay money and receive something in return. However, there’s a growing concern that loot boxes act like a “gateway drug,” pulling in those who might not otherwise partake in traditional gambling.

For example, 14.5% of participants used in-game items for gambling. Other common uses included betting privately with friends (7.9%) and wagering on esports (6.2%).

Read the Full Report

The full report is 279 pages, so there’s no way I can cover all the information here. However, for those who would like to learn more, please click on this link to be taken directly to the report:

Additional Reading

Once you’ve waded through the nearly 300 pages of the report, click on these links for some more gambling news: