Do Simulated Gambling Activities Predict Gambling with Real Money During Adolescence? Empirical Findings from a Longitudinal Study
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As technology has developed, the international gambling market has changed markedly in recent years. The supply of internet-based gambling opportunities has become ever more significant. At the same time, the introduction of new gambling opportunities always brings a demand for evidence-based scientific evaluation, with regard to the associated risks of addiction. Simulated internet gambling, which is the focus of this study, represents a relatively new product group located at the interface between gambling and computer gaming. Concerns have been raised in scientific literature, especially with regard to the adolescent age group, as to whether participation in simulated internet gambling directly promotes recruitment to the world of monetary gambling, as defined in the gateway hypothesis. The research design was based on a standardized, representative longitudinal survey (over a 1-year period) with a total of 1178 school pupils from Northern Germany (M = 13.6 years; 47.5% male). It must be borne in mind that 12% of the adolescents belonged to the subgroup of “onset gamblers” and first reported experience with monetary gambling at the second stage of surveying. Logistic regression analysis demonstrates that this migration process is fostered by (1) participation from home in simulated gambling on social networks and (2) significant exposure to advertising (relating to both simulated and monetary gambling). Within the subgroup of simulated internet gamblers, variables such as particular patterns of use (including breadth and depth of involvement with simulated internet gambling, certain motives for participation, and microtransactions) do not serve as significant predictors. Despite this, important needs for action for the purposes of prevention and research can be identified.
KeywordsSimulated gambling Longitudinal study Adolescence School survey Predictors Gambling onset
We should like to express our thanks to all participating schools and school pupils, without whose generous involvement it would not have been possible to obtain knowledge of this kind.
This study was developed with research funding from the Hamburg Department of Health and Consumer Protection. The funding was not subject to any restrictions or specific instructions with regard to data collection, analysis or interpretation, or to publication of the results.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Gerhard Meyer has received grants for gambling research from the German Research Foundation, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Ministries of Health of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg and Bremen, the Ministry of the Interior of Hesse and Lower Saxony, and several gambling providers. Jens Kalke has received grants for gambling research from the Federal Ministry of Health, the Ministries of Health of Hamburg, Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein, several federal lottery companies and state-licenced casinos. Tobias Hayer and Tim Brosowski declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. A written declaration of agreement from parents was a general precondition of participation in the study. In addition and regardless of this, the young persons were able at any time to refuse to participate in the survey. Matching of an individual’s questionnaires from different stages for data analysis purposes relied on a coding system that guaranteed the anonymity of participants in all cases.
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