Place, gender and the appeal of video lottery terminal gambling: unpacking a focus group study of Montreal youth
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Youth gambling has become an important public health issue in Canada and elsewhere owing to the known associations between gambling and delinquency, family dysfunction and suicide. Modern electronic and virtual gambling activities like video lottery terminals (VLTs) may have particular appeal to youth who have been raised in social environments that are increasingly dependent on information and communication technologies. The main objective of the study was to explore why youth gamble and what makes gambling activities like VLTs popular to youth in the places where youth live, study and play. The research is framed within a population health perspective that recognizes the role of social and physical environments in influencing health-related behaviours. Group discussions were conducted with youth to explore the popularity and appeal of gambling and VLTs, and how gambling fits into the daily routines of youth and the spaces they occupy. Methodologically, this research was conscious of responding to calls in the literature to analyze focus groups as an interactive group process rather a collection of individual responses, and to exercise analytic rigour by explicitly making the research team’s positionality and the data collection process transparent. Group discussions revealed gender differences in the appeal of particular gambling activities with young males being more likely to discuss poker, dice, sports-betting and online gambling as exciting social activities, while females described lottery and scratch (instant win) tickets as fun solitary activities. Substantive results point to the need for interventions to address social aspects of gambling that appeal, in particular, to young males potentially through increased provision of healthier alternatives to social engagement and greater attention to young people’s use of space.
KeywordsFocus group interviews Gambling Health behaviours Health geography Population health Youth
D. H. Wilson was supported by a Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The research project was supported by a grant from the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture. The authors are grateful to all members of the broader research team, the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University, and for the research assistance provided by Lucio De Martinis.
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