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 report is available 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 vs 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 vs 32.9% for 12-14 age group

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

Gambling activity Participation
Informal private betting 1.5% in last week

4.2% in last month

11.4% in past year

Scratchies/lotteries 0.5% in last week

1.7% in last month

8.8% in past year

Bingo 0.1% in last week

0.6% in last month

5.3% in past year

Keno 0.4% in last week

0.5% in last month

4.2% in past year

Race betting 0.3% in last week

1.4% in last month

2.7% in past year

Sports betting 1% in last week

0.7% in last month

2.8% in past year

Pokies 0.3% in last week

2.2% in last month,

1.1% in past year

Casino games 0.3% in last week

0.3% in last month

2.1% in past year

Fantasy sports betting 0.5% in last week

0.3% in last month

1.7% in past year

eSports betting 0.4% in last week

0.1% in last month

1% in past year

Poker 0.8% in last week

0.3% in last month

0.4% in past year

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

Youth who gambled for real money live or online (or both) in the past year:

Gambling activity Live Online
Sports betting 9.7% 65.8%

24.6% both

Fantasy sports betting 10% 76.5%

13.5% both

eSports betting 11.9% 88.1%

0 both

Poker 17.6% 82.4%

0 both

Race betting 51% 28%

21.1% both

Casino games 62% 38%

0 both

Pokies 65.6% 24.5%

9.9% both

Bingo 90% 7.2%

2.9% both

Scratchies / lotteries 92.1% 3.6%

4.3% both

Keno 93.3% 6.7%

0 both

Average money spent on gambling in the past 12 months:

  • 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 avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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