The subject of underage gambling is often addressed by government officials and watchdog groups but acknowledged by most parents quite less often than previously thought. A new study shows that the dangers and growing trend of gambling among minors is something often ignored in lieu of concerns about sexual behavior and drug/alcohol usage but can lead to adult gambling problems if not addressed by parents earlier.
The “Parents as Partners” study was conducted by DECODE and the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors, both research organizations that focus on youth issues and the latter of which concentrates on the training of professionals who are able to deal with youth gambling problems for the last twenty years. The two groups took data from a study consisting of 2,700 parent interviews in Canada between August 2008 and April 2009.
Results of the survey showed that most parents are not aware of the trend of underage gambling and do not see gambling leading to problems in their future adult lives. Underage gambling ranked last in the concerns of parents, only being mentioned by 40 percent of the parents interviewed, whereas drug usage showed up in 87 percent of the results, alcohol use in 82 percent, drinking and driving by 81 percent, unsafe sex by 81 percent, and excessive video game play by 64 percent. Not only did many parents acknowledge gambling as an issue but some parents go so far as to buy lottery tickets for their children and encourage them to play poker and learn other casino-type games.
However, on the positive side, results showed that 95 percent of parents accept the fact that they are responsible for the prevention of underage gambling. Moreover, two-thirds of the interviewees believe they would be able to have productive discussions about the subject with their children.
Researcher Dr. Jeff Derevensky noted, “Canada is a world leader in researching and understanding gambling behaviours, and this study looking at parents of teens is a global first. However, while there are some resources on youth gambling currently available for parents, and other resources being developed, this is still an emerging area.”
As online poker becomes more prevalent in all facets of society, with a special interest being taken by teenagers in some cases, it is important that parents teach children the concept of responsible gaming. While some governments do address the issue and help parents keep underage persons from accessing real money games on the internet, others - like the United States - refuse to regulate the industry and assist in putting safeguards in place to prevent children from participating in the games until they are of legal age and possess the proper knowledge of gaming accountability.