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Teenage gambling linked to multiple public health issues

New research into the prevalence of gambling among adolescents estimates that 25,600 students in Victoria aged 12–17 years may be spending $2.9 million on gambling each year, despite being under the age at which Australians can legally gamble.

Released to coincide with Gambling Harm Awareness Week (7–13 October), the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation-funded research found 31 per cent of kids in the study had gambled at some point in the past – and six per cent had gambled in the previous 30 days.

“Gambling was associated with tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use, with students who reported a mental health condition also more likely to report they had gambled in the previous month,” the Foundation’s chief executive, Shane Lucas, said today.

“The study confirms a relationship between the respondents’ gambling behaviour and socio-economic disadvantage, social influences, exposure to gambling environments and advertising.

“Across all students who completed the survey, TV ads were by far the most frequently reported type of gambling promotions they had seen, at 73 per cent, followed by 38 per cent on social media.

“Significantly, 62 per cent of students who had gambled in the previous month reported they had seen four or more types of gambling advertising during the same period.”

The University of Newcastle research analysed responses to a series of gambling-related questions in the triennial Australian Secondary Students' Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey, included for the first time in 2017.

A total of 3,746 Victorian students answered the questions, in which gambling was defined as ‘when you pay in your own money knowing that you could lose all of it or, possibly, win back even more than you paid in’.

Other notable findings:

  • 30 per cent of male and 17 per cent of female students were found to be ‘highly susceptible’ to gambling in the future
  • 35 per cent had been at a venue in the past month where gambling was available
  • of those who had gambled, 54 per cent bet on horse or dog races, 38 per cent on sport
  • of those who had gambled, the most common mode of gambling was ‘at home or at a friend’s home’ (52 per cent), followed by a parent or guardian gambling for them (51 per cent)
  • gambling participation was higher among males and older students.

The research report, The Prevalence and Correlates of Gambling in Secondary School Students in Victoria, is available to download from here.

Media contact:
Fiona Skivington, Manager, Media & Communication
on +61428248931 or

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