Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 95, Issue 4, pp 264–267 | Cite as

Dares to Addiction

Youth Definitions and Perspectives on Gambling
  • Harvey SkinnerEmail author
  • Sherry Biscope
  • Martha Murray
  • David Korn


Background: Over the past decade, there has been a rapid growth of gambling in Canada and internationally. Although youth are a potentially vulnerable group, little is known about what they understand and if they are being affected by the recent increase in gambling.

Methods: This study examined how youth view gambling using an inductive qualitative research design and analysis based on grounded theory principles. Twelve focus groups were conducted comprising 103 participants (median age = 15 years) with diverse representation of Ontario youth. Focus-group questions were designed to capture youth’s experiences and opinions about gambling.

Results: Youth participants defined a spectrum of gambling from a dare and friendly betting to legalized forms of gambling (lotteries, casinos) and addiction. Their opinions varied according to age and gambling type. For example, daring and friendly betting were identified as positive activities used by younger adolescents to relieve boredom and establish social relationships. Gambling was separate from daring because of its association with money. Many participants had minimal awareness of the potential negative impact of gambling. Information technology (Internet) was seen as an attractive medium for playing games and gambling where no money was involved.

Conclusion: Lack of awareness of gambling among youth and its consequences underscores the need for public education. The diverse range of gambling behaviour and age-dependent access to money need careful consideration in defining youth gambling “problems” and in designing public health interventions.


Contexte: Au cours de la dernière décennie, on a assisté à une croissance rapide des jeux de hasard au Canada et à l’étranger. Bien que les jeunes constituent un groupe potentiellement vulnérable, on en sait peu sur ce qu’ils comprennent de la situation et sur l’effet que cette hausse récente des jeux de hasard peut avoir sur eux.

Méthode: Notre étude porte sur la perspective des jeux de hasard chez les jeunes et fait appel à une méthode de recherche qualitative inductive et à une analyse fondée sur des principes théoriques à base empirique. Nous avons mené 12 groupes de discussion avec 103 participants (âge moyen = 15 ans) représentant divers segments de la jeunesse de l’Ontario. Les questions des groupes de discussion visaient à saisir l’expérience et les opinions des jeunes à propos des jeux de hasard.

Résultats: Les jeunes participants ont défini un éventail de jeux de hasard allant des simples défis et des paris amicaux aux jeux de hasard légalisés (loteries, casinos) et à la dépendance. Leurs opinions variaient selon l’âge et le type de jeu de hasard. Par exemple, les jeunes adolescents considéraient les défis et les paris amicaux comme des activités positives qui leur permettaient de se désennuyer et de tisser des liens sociaux. Ils établissaient une distinction entre les jeux de hasard et les simples défis, les premiers étant associés à l’argent. De nombreux participants étaient très peu au courant des possibles effets nuisibles des jeux de hasard. Les technologies de l’information (Internet) étaient perçues comme un moyen intéressant de jouer à des jeux et de faire des paris sans argent.

Conclusion: Le manque de sensibilisation aux jeux de hasard chez les jeunes, et ses conséquences, soulignent le besoin d’informer le public. Lorsque l’on définit les „ problèmes ” de jeu chez les jeunes et que l’on conçoit des mesures d’intervention en santé publique, il faut étudier soigneusement la gamme des comportements liés aux jeux de hasard et l’accès à l’argent, qui varie selon l’âge.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harvey Skinner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sherry Biscope
    • 1
  • Martha Murray
    • 1
  • David Korn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public Health Sciences, McMurrich Building, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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