Research by Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has revealed that gambling among youths in the Pacific region could be described as a social activity that takes place mostly with their family members and friends.
According to the research, more than 50% of the 17-year-old participants in the survey revealed that their parents placed bets. One in five felt worried about the gambling habits of a family member, while one in nine had faced at least one domestic problem resulting from the betting habits of a family member.
The research further showed that almost one-third of the young people in the region has gambled with real money the previous year. The most common forms of gambling among the youths were placing bets with family and friends, as well as card games and sports betting.
Dr Maria Bellringer, one of the leading researchers, said that there are many cases of youth gambling taking place in the context of gambling viewed as a risk-free behaviour in their families. Based on the research that she headed, a small number of Pacific youngsters are experiencing risky or harmful gambling behaviour in their families. Dr Bellringer explained that the findings are important not only because of the harm experienced by young Kiwis but also because of the increased risk of developing gambling addiction by underage individuals.
One in 62 Teens was Problem Gambler at 17 years
The study has been released as part of the Pacific Islands Families Research—special research focused on Pacific Children who share similar characteristics and who were born in 2000 at the Middlemore Hospital in Auckland and also among their parents.
The survey included a number of questions related to gambling to gather the responses of over 600 children aged 9, 14 and 17. The survey’s nature has provided useful data regarding the changes in risk factors and gambling behaviours in time, besides information about the family, social and environmental factors linked with gambling.
As Dr. Bellringer explained, gambling appeared to be one type of risky behaviours that have increased with the increasing age of the youths. Engaging in gambling activities could be described as being problematic when it leads to harm. The latest research on gambling habits among New Zealand teenagers has shown that one in 63 teenagers was a problem gambler at the age of 17. 25% of these youths had also placed bets in ways that could harm them three years earlier.
Based on the results of the study, most pacific youths frequently gambled, but one in three appeared to have been betting on a daily basis. One in 83 gambled for over 3 hours daily. The research also found out that youths who gambled on dice or played online games for real money were more inclined to frequently place bets. The ones on dice and bingo were more likely to spend more cash. It further showed that one in five bettors had used stolen money to place the bets.
According to the survey, Pacific youths mostly turned to friends for gambling help. Less than 10% of the youths who took the survey said they sought help from adults including their parents and other family members.
Dr El-Shadan Tautolo, the survey director, said that the findings show the need for customized information, training and funds to support Pacific families and reduce the risk of gambling.
The Government Launches a Strategy to Prevent and Minimize Gambling Harm
During the last week of June, the Ministry of Health released its new strategy to prevent and reduce gambling problems.
The Strategy to Prevent and Minimize Gambling Harm 2019/20 to 2021/22 is the latest strategy by the ministry of health to address the issue of problem gambling. The strategy sets out the Ministry’s approach to and budget for funding and coordinating services to prevent and reduce gambling harm during the three year period effective from 1 July 2019.
The strategy was developed following a comprehensive consultation process with individuals and groups and included people with experience of gambling harm, the gambling industry, problem gambling harm service providers, and other stakeholders with an interest in gambling harm.
The strategy included pledges to address health inequities and inequalities of gambling damage in a variety of at-risk groups. It would also address ethnic and linguistic obstacles to gain access to information and help and bringing in new technology to promote harm reduction. But will these measures help in reducing the rate of underage gambling? It is yet uncertain but hopefully, they will.