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New digital technologies, computer games and gambling among youth


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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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New digital technologies, computer games and gambling among youth

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