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Anne Lindner

New Study Suggests Online Gambling Is Popular Among Teenage Boys

18 April 2003

The results of a study released early this week show that 7 percent of American boys aged 14-18 have gambled on the Internet, and that one in 10 such boys gamble online each month.

The study was conducted by Shulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas Inc. for the Institute for Adolescent Risk Communication of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

From March 3 to April 6, 408 young people between the ages of 14 and 18 were interviewed for the study. Interviewees were found by using random digit telephone dialing, and all participants younger than 18 were interviewed with their parents' permission. The results were weighted according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau regarding race, ethnicity, gender and geographic region.

Among the highlights of the studies findings:

  • Fifty-four percent of the male teenagers polled said they have gambled for money. Sixteen percent of the girls said they had gambled before.

  • Twenty-one percent of the boys said they had gambled in the last 30 days, versus 5 percent of the girls.

  • Teenage boys are twice as likely to gamble on the Internet as teenage girls.

That boys may be exposing themselves to possible gambling addictions is troublesome, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, because gambling can bring with it behaviors like alcohol and cigarette use and failure to wear seat-belts.

Dan Romer, the research director for the Institute for Adolescent Risk Communication, said the survey did not ask the young people how they paid for their online gambling. He said that since the amount of young boys who have gambled online is so high at 10 percent, his group may do a follow-up study to determine how kids are paying for Internet gambling.

"We don't have any details other than that we asked them about a whole bunch of ways in which they might be gambling," he said. "We said, 'In an average month, do you ever do any of these things?' and on the list was 'gamble on the Internet.' And we had defined gambling early on to mean using money, so we're pretty confident they're paying for it, but how they're paying for it, I don't know."

Romer said he was surprised at how many young people said they had gambled on the Internet because other surveys, such as state-wide surveys in Nevada and Oregon, had put the number of adolescents who gamble online at between 1 percent and 2 percent.

"There are other studies that looked at, not national samples, you know, clinic samples with college-age people where they're getting in the 10 percent range, but no one had seen it, and there had been some pretty large state-wide surveys," he said.

"These were only a couple of years ago, and they were finding 1 or 2 percent. So this suggests to us that this is growing. It's not that more kids are gambling, it's that they're finding this venue to do it in," Romer added.

Romer said he does not endorse a particular policy regarding Internet gambling, such as whether it should be regulated or prohibited in the United States. But he said he would endorse any policy that discouraged young people from doing it.

New Study Suggests Online Gambling Is Popular Among Teenage Boys is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner