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Gambling and Gaming

gamblingNowadays, children and adolescents have more access to online gambling activities through digital devices, such as personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and other technological devices.[1] A 2011 study reported that two percent of 11 to 16-year-olds play online lottery and other gambling games.1 In fact, the first gambling experiences for some children and adolescents actually occurs via the internet, mobile phones, and interactive televisions rather than through traditional offline gaming in casinos, amusement arcades, or bookmakers.1

As gambling on the internet has expanded, so has gambling-like activities on smartphones, social networking sites, and in video games.1 There are more opportunities to gamble without spending any money; therefore, this free-play provide opportunities for youth to practice and become more familiar with gambling activities.1

Games that feature gambling may be categorized into three groups.1 First is the standard gambling simulation, which is a digitally-simulated interactive gambling activity that is structurally identical to the standard format of an established gambling activity.1 For example, Texas Hold’em by TikGames is a standard gambling simulation of the poker variant of the same name.1 With this game, poker is played with virtual credits against a computer opponent or in competition with other online players.1

Second, there is non-standard gambling simulation, which is an interactive gambling activity that involves intentional wagering of in-game credits or other items on an uncertain outcome.1 The activity may be partially modelled on standard gambling activity but contains distinct rules or other components that differ from the established gambling game.1

Third is gambling references, which give the appearance of non-interactive gambling material within the context of a video game.1

Modern video games provide a realistic simulation of gambling activities to youth.1 There are many potential risks of youth engaging in simulated gambling:

  • Greater familiarity with gambling strategies and the ability to practice such strategies without spending money.1
  • Acceptance of gambling as a normal entertainment activity.1
  • The development of positive gambling beliefs through thoughts of winning.1
  • Exposure to the excitement of gambling wins.1
  • False expectations of how gambling operates.1

Youth gambling represents a serious social problem.1 It is important for researchers, health professionals, and parents to be informed about the emerging media risk factors for problem gambling.1 Policymakers should seriously consider the growing presence of gambling in online gaming and social media, as well as the associated issues of social responsibility.1 These activities may promote problem gambling.1

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