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New digital technologies, computer games and gambling among youth

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Dr Daniel King …

Dr Daniel King
Research Fellow, The University of Adelaide

Presentation given on 23 May 2011 at "The New Game: Emerging technology and responsible gambling" forum hosted by the Victorian Government's Office of Gaming and Racing as part of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week 2011.

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  • 1. Dr Daniel King The University of Adelaide
  • 2. Dr Daniel King (University of Adelaide) Dr Paul Delfabbro (University of Adelaide) Dr Mark Griffiths (Nottingham Trent University) Digital technologies, computer games, & gambling among youth
  • 3. Outline of presentation
    • Definition of Internet/digital forms of gambling
    • Status of the Internet gambling industry
    • Gambling-like experiences in adolescence
    • Trends in technology-based gaming
    • Empirical research: Prevalence and usage data
    • Links to problem gambling
    • Convergence of gambling: Implications for youth
    • Discussion/conclusions
  • 4. Definitions of Internet gambling
    • Very broadly, there is a need to distinguish between different forms of Internet gambling
    • Internet gambling: Online-only gaming activities, including casinos.
    • Internet-facilitated gambling : People using network technology to place bets on land-based activities (e.g., Betfair) or sign up accounts that charge up cards for use on slot-machines (e.g., in Sweden, Norway)
  • 5. Definitions (continued)
    • It is also possible to differentiate between:
    • Online wagering : Racing, sports, events
    • Online gaming : casino games, virtual EGMs
    • Lottery products : keno, lottery draws
  • 6. Australia’s policy environment
    • Interactive Gambling Act 2001
    • This allows online wagering (sports, race, event betting via the internet)
    • BUT prohibits online gaming services to be provided to Australians.
    • The Productivity Commission argues that Australians are spending money on overseas sites (lost revenue) + and that these sites may not have the same levels of probity and regulation as land-based gambling in Australia
  • 7. Scale of Internet gambling
    • In 2008, it was estimated that annual Internet revenue would reach around $25billion by 2010.
    • In January 2008, there were over 2000 Internet gambling sites in operation. Currently, over 3000.
    • Estimates suggest that Australians are spending at least $700m per annum on online casino games and poker (Productivity Commission, 2010).
    • Poker is particularly popular due to growing TV promotion of the activity, film and TV references.
  • 8. Scale (cont.)
    • Productivity Commission (2010)
    • Very large increase in the number of active player accounts
    • Casino : 2004 (n = 324,900) to 2008 (n = 703,300)
    • Poker : 2004 (n = 131,300) to 2008 (n = 363,100)
    • Expenditure :
      • Online poker: $249 million
      • Online casinos: $541 million
  • 9. Prevalence of Internet gambling
    • The rates are quite low
    • In Canada, Williams and Wood (2009) found that only 2.1% of people gamble on the net (past 12 months)
    • In Australia, only 1-2% report gambling on the Internet in surveys, but the PC estimates the true rate to be 4.3% based on active player accounts (i.e., online gaming)
    • May be under-reported in surveys due to sampling error or a reluctance to admit to illegal activity
  • 10. Prevalence vs. Active Account Data
    • Some studies have also looked at actual Internet gambling statistics, i.e., objective data of expenditure
    • LeBrie et al. (2008) formed a link with industry providers and tracked 4222 accounts over 2 years
    • Most people spend very small amounts (people lose only around AUS$10 per session of gambling)
    • Only 5% of bettors gambled regularly and lost a median of around AUS$70
  • 11. Demographics
    • Best data from Canada (Wood & Williams, 2009)
      • Over 80% of internet gamblers are male
      • Tend to be younger
      • More likely to be single
      • Slightly higher levels of education and income
      • Higher rates of substance use, but lower rates of physical and mental disability
  • 12. Prevalence of online gambling among youth
    • Byrne (2004) - Over the past year, almost one in twenty (4.6%) of the participants had gambled online with their own money. (N=2,087)
    • Griffiths & Wood (2007) – 8% of young people aged 12 to 15 years reported they had played a lottery game on the Internet in past year. (N=8,017)
    • Ipsos MORI (2009) - 1% of 11-15 year olds reported gambling on the Internet for money in the seven days prior to the survey (N=8,598)
    • Brunelle, Gendron et al (2009)- 8% of 14-18 year olds had gambled on the Internet in the previous 12 months. (N=1,876)
    • Olason et al. (2009a) - 20% of 16-18 year olds had gambled on the Internet, and just under 4% were regular Internet gamblers (N=1,513)
    • Olason et al. (2009b) - 24% of 13-18 year olds had gambled on the Internet, and just over 4% were regular Internet gamblers. (N=1,537)
    • Welte et al. (2009) - 2% of 14-21 year old respondents reported gambling online in the past year. (N=2,274)
  • 13. Social responsibility and online gambling
      • Smeaton and Griffiths (2004) study of 30 online gambling sites:
        • Credit limit (90%)
        • Age verification (66%)
        • Initial age check (50%)
        • Instant exit (37%)
        • No direct access to bank account (33%)
        • No encouragement to keep gambling (17%)
        • Credit check (13%)
        • Link to gambling help (13%)
        • Self-exclusion (3%)
  • 14. How is net-based gambling different? Is it riskier?
    • More isolated : Do not need to interact with others
    • Always accessible : no restrictions by hours and there are thousands of choices
    • Cashless: One gambles with credit or e-money so that real money is not visible during play
    • Anonymous: Staff cannot see who is gambling
    • Faster : Allows rapid bets on all forms of gambling. This reduces the differences between different forms of gambling. All become more continuous
  • 15. Links with Problem gambling
    • PG rates have been found to be higher in Internet gambling populations
    • Wood, Griffiths and Parke (2007) sampled online poker players in UK and found 18% met DSM-IV criteria
    • Delfabbro et al. (2007) found that 10% of young ( < 18 years) pathological gamblers had tried internet gambling
  • 16. Links with PG (cont.)
    • Wood and Williams (2009) found (in a telephone survey in Canada) that 17.1% of net gamblers had moderate to severe problems vs. 4.1% of non-internet gamblers
    • An online sample: 16.6% vs. 5.7% (moderate to severe problems as based on the Canadian Problem Gambling Index)
    • But only 11% identified the Internet as a source of their problems
  • 17. Methodological Challenges
    • It is difficult to obtain useful prevalence figures from population surveys because of the low base-rate of the behaviour
    • Online surveys are likely to be over-estimates because the population are already gamblers
    • Online samples are more likely to be younger and male- both demographic factors are associated with higher gambling rates and a higher risk of problem gambling
  • 18. Gambling via SNSs (Facebook) and mobile apps
  • 19. Gambling themes/content in computer games
  • 20. Structural similarities of gambling & gaming  = rare or atypical  = common Gambling machines Computer games Onscreen display of score   Sound and graphics   Audiovisual rewards   Competitive elements   Skill-based elements   Require response to predictable visual stimuli   Rapid span of play   Random elements   Scripted ‘near miss’ event   Entrapment   No endpoint  
  • 21. Gambling-like experiences among youth
    • North American studies have reported that anywhere between 25% to 50% of teenagers have played 'free play' games via online gambling sites (Derevensky & Gupta, 2007; McBride & Derevensky, 2009; Poulin & Elliot, 2007).
    • Griffiths and Wood (2007) - Of the 8% who had gambled online, a quarter said they had played free instant win games (24%)
    • Ipsos MORI (2009) - Just over 25% of adolescents had played in ‘money- free mode’ in the week preceding the survey, with opportunities on the social networking sites four or five times more popular than those presented on real gambling sites.
    • Brunelle et al. (2009) report 35% of youth (49% males; 21% females) had played on the ‘free play’/’demo’ mode on gambling sites.
    • Byrne (2004) - More individuals under the age of 18 years than 18 to 24 years played ‘free play’ games on Internet gambling sites
  • 22. OFLC ratings of gambling content in computer games
  • 23. OFLC classification of gambling content
    • Online gambling games and applications (e.g., via SNSs) are not reviewed by the OFLC Board (reason: material considered “inherently unreviewable”)
    • Since 2000: Over 100 computer games with gambling content/themes reviewed by OFLC
    • 70 games rated PG (Parental guidance), the remainder are classified ‘G’ (General audience)
    • However, drug use (legalised and illicit drugs) with in-game incentive carries a restricted classification rating
    • Computer games with high impact content (e.g., violence, sex) and gambling carry no consumer advice regarding gambling content
  • 24. Research on gambling and video game play
    • Gupta and Derevensky (1996) study of 104 children aged 9 to 14 years
      • Children who regularly play video games exhibit a “false sense of confidence and security” and take greater risks and gamble larger amounts when playing a game of blackjack.
    • Wood, Gupta, Derevensky, and Griffiths (2004) study of 996 adolescents aged 10 to 17 years
      • Small but significant correlation was found between the number of hours spent playing video games and the severity of problem gambling
    • Delfabbro, King, Lambos, and Puglies (2009) survey of 2,669 adolescents aged 13 to 17 years
      • Video game playing was unlikely to be a significant risk factor for pathological gambling in adolescence
  • 25. Summary: Gambling and gambling-like experiences Type of gambling Gambling activities Availability Gambling with money
    • Casino websites:
    • Poker
    • Blackjack
    • Other wagering:
    • Sports betting
    • Racing and other events
    Over 3,000 online gambling sites worldwide Gambling without money
    • Gambling applications (“apps”):
    • Smartphones
    • Social networking sites
    • -‘Free play’ online casinos
    iPhone apps: 400 casino, 250 poker, 30 slots, and 42 sports Facebook apps: 350 poker, 120 casino betting, 80 slot machines, and 20 sports betting Gambling-like experiences Video games with gambling themes and content Online shopping or auction sites Over 100 video games rated ‘G’ or ‘PG’ that contain gambling
  • 26. Technological trends
    • Greater familiarity with, and use of, digital technology among youth (“digital natives”)
    • Growth in mobile gaming sector
    • Increase in technological advertising and marketing of gambling online
    • Greater use of behavioural tracking data
    • Increase in gambling via SNSs
    • Convergence/integration of gambling technologies (devices; networks; content)
    • Emergence of non-financial problem gambling
    • Online gambling help services
  • 27. Implications of new gambling media for young people
      • Greater accessibility and familiarity of gambling
        • 24hr access to gambling activities
        • More visible, attractive, and ubiquitous
        • Normalisation of the activity
        • More difficult to self-exclude
      • Involvement in gambling at earlier age
        • Fewer restrictions on first gambling experience
        • Potential for non-supervised gambling activity
        • Early development of gambling beliefs/strategies
        • Exposure to factually incorrect or misleading information
  • 28. Implications (cont.)
      • Greater likelihood of experiencing a ‘big win’
        • Online sites engineer early big wins in ‘free play’ sections
        • Lack of financial element may create dissociation between actions and consequences
        • Gambling within skill-based domains like computer games
        • May be other rewards of non-financial gambling (e.g., social, excitement, relief of boredom)
      • A way of coping for youth
        • Gambling as an accessible escape or ‘safety’ behaviour
        • Characteristics of the online environment
          • Asocial/Anonymous
          • Disinhibiting
  • 29. Implications (cont.)
      • Peer-to-peer influences
        • Internet enables social dynamics of gambling (approval, competition, knowledge-sharing, etc.)
        • Mere presence effects
        • Opportunity for interaction with older, experienced gamblers
      • Parental beliefs
        • Family entertainment: “Cocooning” effects
        • Increase parental transmission of attitudes
        • Lack of consumer advice
        • Protective factor: Earlier detection? Controlled gambling?
  • 30. Summary
    • Prevalence of Internet gambling appears to be low but increasing
    • Research needed on youth gambling and new technologies:
      • Demographics and motivations
      • Psychosocial factors associated with Internet gambling
      • Influence of gambling-like experiences
      • Possible links to problem gambling
      • Research in the Australian context
    • Australian policy environment offers few protections
    • Convergence of gambling and digital technologies may pose unique psychological risks for young people

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