The Effects of Gambling on Adolescents and Young Adults


Gambling is a type of risk taking in which people place something of value on the outcome of an event. The gambler expects to receive something of equal value in exchange for their wager, although the definition of “something of value” differs by state law and may exclude things like business transactions or purchases based on the law of contracts.

Although gambling is common, there are risks to be aware of. Gambling can lead to addiction and other forms of harm. It is important to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose, and never with money needed for bills or other expenses. You should also avoid gambling when feeling bored or stressed, as it can trigger negative emotions. Instead, try exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or practicing calming techniques.

Although most studies of gambling have been cross-sectional, a few longitudinal studies have followed adolescents through their transition to adulthood (Vitaro et al. 2001; Delfabbro et al. 2014; Winters et al. 2002). These studies have generally found that rates of gambling decrease gradually with age, and decline more steeply in the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. This is consistent with research from other countries that has shown a similar pattern of decreasing gambling with age. However, loss to follow-up in this study (over 50%) means that these conclusions should be viewed with caution. The analyses have used multiple imputation to minimise bias from missing data, but the gender bias in this sample will have led to an under-estimation of the prevalence of gambling at all three time points.

Posted in: Gambling