Children as young as 11 are gambling for money and playing video games and apps that simulate betting – and parents are most often funding and enabling them.
About 40% of NSW children aged 12 to 17 are playing video games and apps with features that look and feel like gambling, according to major research commissioned by the NSW Office of Responsible Gambling. It surveyed 551 young people and held a range of focus groups.
Although underage gambling is illegal, about 30% of these young people had bet for money in the past year. The most popular gambling activity was informal betting such as poker, often played at school or TAFE. The balance was commercial gambling such as sports betting, scratchies and lottery tickets.
The director of NSW’s Office of Responsible Gambling Natalie Wright said the results showed that gambling among young people was more prevalent than ever.
The increasing convergence of gaming and gambling was increasing the potential for gambling harm. Many video games and apps encourage children to spend real or virtual money to open loot boxes, digital grab bags that may include skins and weapons.
“Games are exposing young children to gambling at a much earlier age. And parents are the biggest enablers. These games which mimic real gambling are potentially gateways to traditional gambling for young people,” Ms Wright said.