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Fresh focus on convergence of gaming and gambling among youth

Published:14 August 2019

There are community concerns that youth spend too much money on loot boxes, and fears that these products might encourage young people to experiment with other forms of gambling.

Smart phones, video game loot boxes and the growing convergence of gaming and gambling among youth are now under the microscope.

CQUniversity is conducting four separate studies focused on gambling by NSW youth, funded by the NSW Office of Responsible Gambling through the Responsible Gambling Fund.

Most adults with gambling problems experience their first issues in adolescence. Young people are vulnerable to addictive disorders due to immature brain development that favours risk-taking. In fact, recent evidence shows that brains do not fully develop until around age 25.

CQUni's Dr Alex Russell is conducting a retrospective study that explores factors that predict who is likely to develop gambling problems from adolescence through to young adulthood, and how exposure to gambling and gambling-like activities has changed over time.

New technologies that allow betting on smartphones may be particularly attractive to young people, and encourage greater gambling involvement in both adolescence and early adulthood.

CQUni's Professor Nerilee Hing is undertaking a project to determine what factors put youth at risk for using smartphones for betting, and will quantify the harms that result from sports, esports, and daily fantasy sports betting.

The increasing popularity of video games amongst both adolescence and young adults has created unique new threats to youth due to the widespread availability of loot boxes.

Loot boxes are virtual lucky-dip prizes with valuable in-game rewards. There are community concerns that youth spend too much money on loot boxes, and fears that these products might encourage young people to experiment with other forms of gambling.

CQUni's Professor Matthew Rockloff is heading a team of researchers who are exploring how widespread loot box purchases are amongst youth, and whether young people who make loot box purchases are likely to participate in other forms of gambling.

Meanwhile, Professor Hing is also heading the first ever prevalence study of youth gambling in NSW.

The research will examine: youth gambling participation, behaviours and attitudes; the impact of advertising and normalisation (especially in sport) on young people; and the convergence of gaming and gambling.

CQUniversity supports these projects as host to the Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory (EGRL).

The mission of the EGRL is to improve an understanding of games of chance, through experiment, simulation, and observation.

Project details:

Smartphone betting on sports, esports and daily fantasy sports among young people:

Lead: Hing. Co-investigators: Russell, Rockloff, Browne, Greer. $185 900.

Exploring the changing landscape of gambling in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood:

Lead: Russell. Co-investigators: Rockloff, Greer, Hing, Browne. $99 900.

Loot boxes: Are they grooming youth for gambling?

Lead: Rockloff. Co-investigators: Browne, Hing, Russell. $79 728.

Youth gambling research:

Lead: Hing. Co-investigators:King, Rockloff, Browne, Russell, Greer $328 492.