Teen Gambling a Growing Problem as Online Market Opens: Study

April 25, 2016 Updated: April 25, 2016

A recently conducted survey by researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the University of Waterloo found that approximately 10 percent of teens in three Canadian provinces have gambled online in the last quarter.

In addition to this uptick of online gambling, it was reported that 42 percent of adolescents said they have gambled money or something of value in an offline or online gambling service.

Popular gambling activities included:

  • A dare or challenge:  22 percent
  • Instant-win or scratch tickets: 22 percent
  • Games of skill (pool or darts, for example): 12 percent
  • Offline sports pools: 9 percent
  • Cards (poker and black jack): 9 percent

The legal gambling age in Canada is 19, with the exception of three provinces (In Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec the legal age is 18). The ages apply to online and land-based gambling, according to Onlinegambling.ca. The regulations for online gambling vary from province to province, but most provinces are making online gambling more widely available to people of an appropriate age. 

Research suggests once young people start to gamble early it is very likely to become a problem in the future.

Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, the scientist in social and epidemiological research at CAMH, explained in the press release that research suggests once young people start to gamble early it is very likely to become a problem in the future.

On the other hand, Canadians enjoy a great deal of freedom with regards to online gambling. Because of the liberal position in the country, SportsBettingExperts.com refers to Canada as a “gambler’s paradise.”

The research data came from 10,035 students between the grades of 9 to 12 (ages 13 through 19) that completed the 2012-2013 Youth Gambling Survey.

Global Market Share and Facts About Online Gambling

The online gambling industry will have an estimated growth of 45.86 billion in 2016 (50.65 billion in 2017, and 56.05 billion in 2018), as reported by Statista.com.

Online visitors from North America spent more time on gambling sites than the rest of the globe, according to All Gamble News. The regions are provided with the average number of minutes per visitor in descending order:

  1. North America (107 min)
  2. Europe (97 min)
  3. Latin America (67 min)
  4. Asia Pacific (47 min)
  5. Middle East and Africa (45 min)

In 2007, the mobile gambling industry in particular grew 7.4 percent, as smartphone sales were starting to take off. By 2015 growth had doubled to 16 percent.

The new federal government in Canada hasn’t taken a stance yet on online gambling, but Newswire predicts the market will continue to open up given the recent actions by provinces and the amount of revenue generated. 

The challenge is to implement effective filters preventing underage gambling; if this isn’t done successfully, habits formed in youth could grow into detrimental addiction.