Exploring gambling behavior, familial influences, and changes over time : a follow-up to the 1999 Manitoba Youth Gambling Prevalence Study

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Lemaire, Jackie A.
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Given the potential negative effects that gambling can have, combined with the increased opportunities to gamble, it is of utmost importance to gain a fuller understanding of youth gambling behavior. Gupta and Derevensky (1997) found that most teenagers gamble, with some gambling on a regular basis. While we know that youth gambling is prevalent, we do not know much about youth gambling and problem gambling rates over time or the potential influence of the family. This research project is the follow-up to the 1999 Manitoba Youth Gambling Prevalence Study. Between September of 2002 and February of 2003, 594 Manitoban youth were re-contacted in the regions of Winnipeg Urban and Winnipeg Rural (the North and West regions of Manitoba were also sampled in the 1999 study). Of the 594,410 were available and willing to complete the survey by phone. Data was then entered with the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and analyzed using non-parametric tests. Standardized measurement tools were used to measure gambling behavior (SOGS-RA) and family functioning (Family APGAR). Social learnng theory and the psychosocial model were used to guide the research. When comparing the two studies (1999 and 2002/03), almost the same percentage (77.1% versus 78%, respectively) of youth reported gambling in the past year. Tests of significance revealed no differences between the 1999 and the 2002/03 study for gambling prevalence and at-risk and problem gambling rates. However, youth at-risk/problem gamblers were significantly more likely to indicate lower family functioning, parental gambling, gambling because of family problems and deficits in their social support network when compared to the non-gambling/non-problem gambling respondents. In comparison to the 1999 study, a higher proportion of the 2002/03 youth respondents sought help (67% versus 23.1%) for their gambling problem. There was no significant relationship between gambling category and gambling with family members, the presence of excessive parental gambling, spending less hours with family per week and being affected by someone else's gambling. The results suggest that some familial factors are associated with youth gambling but the extent of this relationship is unknown and demands further research. In particular, longitudinal research is necessary to complete our understanding of youth gambling. It is hoped that the results of this research will be useful for those individuals who are interested in policy, prevention, intervention, and the rehabilitation of youth problem gamblers. Also, due to the lack of research in this area, this follow up study will offer an unique contribution as the quest for a more complete understanding of youth gambling behavior continues.