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NSW study shows nearly a third of young people gambled last year

| By Richard Mulligan
Almost a third of 12-17 year-olds interviewed for a study in New South Wales had gambled in the past year, according to the state's Office of Responsible Gambling
RWA Australia

The NSW Youth Gambling Study 2020 interviewed 2,200 minors aged between 12-17 and found that 29.8% had participated in monetary gambling and 40.1% had played games with gambling-like components, such as video games.

The study, commissioned by the NSW Office of Responsible Gambling to investigate the gambling attitudes and behaviours of young people, revealed that the problem gambling rate among participants was 1.5%, while a further 2.2% were deemed to be at-risk gamblers.

Gambling usually occurred with parents/guardians (53.7%), followed by friends aged 17 or less (26.8%), relatives aged 18 years or over (20.7%), relatives under 18 years (20.1%), and grandparents (19.5%). Relatively few (9.1%) gambled alone.

Natalie Wright, director of the Office of Responsible Gambling, said: “The research showed relatively few young people gambled alone with gambling usually happening with a parent or another adult relative.”

Wright added that much of the gambling that did occur was on explicitly age-restricted products.

“Underage gambling is illegal but, significantly, 21% of participants reported partaking in gambling including lotteries, scratchies, keno, and sports and race betting.”

Nearly half (46.1%) reported noticing gambling advertising on television during sports and racing events at least weekly.

“Exposure to gambling advertising in both traditional and digital media and thinking more positively about gambling due to seeing gambling advertisements, were associated with gambling participation, intentions and problems,” the Office of Responsible Gambling said.

Acting on the report’s findings, the Office of Responsible Gambling said it will develop education strategies for parents including online resources.

To help young people’s awareness of the risks of gambling, the Office is developing resources for teachers and partnering with sporting teams via the Reclaim the Game initiative to help educate people around sports betting promotion.

“The study found parents were the strongest influence on youth gambling, so we need to educate adults as well as young people,” Wright said.

“The Reclaim the Game initiative sees the Office partner with professional sports to help provide a matchday experience free of sports betting advertising and sponsorship.”

The Office of Responsible Gambling said these initiatives are in conjunction with the NSW Government’s wider commitment to ensuring harm minimisation is a key part of gambling reform with proposed new laws to enhance the current self-exclusion scheme and to provide additional support to gaming machine players being considered.

Late last year the New South Wales government launched consultations on a series of proposed changes to help clubs and hotels in the Australian state minimise gambling harm and support customers that suffer problems with their play.

Two years ago, the Australian state’s authorities released the NSW Gambling Survey 2019, which found that just over half (53%) of 10,000 people surveyed had gambled in the past 12 months, compared to 65% in 2011.

The study, funded by the NSW Responsible Gambling Fund, was commissioned to understand gambling in the state – who gambles, how gambling is changing, the extent of gambling harm in the community, and how different regions are affected.

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