DO AUSSIE GAMBLERS START YOUNG?
21st August, 2012 at 03:38:44
University of Tasmania study getting plenty of coverage
The Australian media reported widely this week on a study conducted by the University of Tasmania late last year which found that 10% of youthful respondents had gambled before they turned 16 years of age.
The study, titled "Weighing up the Odds", was conducted by Christine Gardner and John Williamson at the Faculty of Education, and canvassed the opinions of 606 young people aged between 14 and 17 years across Tasmania, requiring them to fill in a questionnaire. It was commissioned by the provincial government Health and Human Services department
Many publications made much of the survey finding that 'some' children try gambling before age 10 - a difficult situation to envisage on which detail is sparse.
Others highlighted the study's findings that while most young people understood the risks associated with gambling, the widespread proliferation of gambling opportunities had led to greater acceptance of gambling as a pastime.
Human Services Minister Cassy O'Connor said the report's findings would inform programs aimed at saving young people from becoming problem gamblers.
"Toy gambling games and friends were listed as influences encouraging young people to gamble, while teachers and family were listed as strong influences against gambling," O'Connor said.
"It was also concerning to see many young people didn't understand the concept of the 'house edge', the built-in element of commercial gambling that ensures gamblers will lose over time."
O'Connor said the government was trying to debunk gambling myths through campaigns such as the Know Your Odds TV ads and a supporting website.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who chairs a Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform, said the study was a good step that must be followed up with action.
"We do know that young men, adolescents, are one of the main gambling groups, but I was shocked to learn that very young children were having this experience."
However, Wilkie noted that fewer than one in 10 study participants said they had encountered gambling education at school.
"That is a very alarming finding and that is important evidence for some sort of educational awareness being included in the school curriculum," he said.
He said gambling education was more important than ever, given gambling promotion was creeping into the mainstream through avenues including TV sports broadcasting.
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