What is the link between video gaming and gambling?
LSAC Snapshot Series - Issue 7
Kei Sakata, Rebecca Jenkinson
Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children
Video gaming is a popular form of entertainment in Australia. Gaming and gambling are defined as separate activities but they share similarities in appearance, interactive features and elements of skill and chance. Games that structurally resemble traditional gambling activities ('gambling-like' video games) are commonly referred to as 'simulated gambling'. Simulated gambling appears in many forms in video games but social casino games are the most common.
Previous research has found a link between video gaming and gambling. Simulated gambling products have the potential to normalise and encourage monetary gambling, especially among children and young people, yet few studies have examined this relationship. Gambling can lead to a range of negative consequences or gambling harms, including financial, relationship, social, health and emotional/psychological harms.
Young people who played video games daily during adolescence (aged 16-17 years) were not necessarily more likely to gamble as young adults (aged 18-19 years), but we found a link between playing simulated gambling games (such as Zynga Poker, Slotomania and Big Fish Casino) and real money gambling.
Young people who played simulated gambling games during adolescence (aged 16-17) had a 40 percentage points higher probability of spending real money on gambling as young adults (aged 18-19). By product, we found a higher probability of 29 percentage points for betting on horse or dog racing, of 26 percentage points for gambling on casino table games, and of 21 percentage points for betting on sports as young adults.
Parent gambling and higher levels of alcohol consumption were also found to be risk factors for young adults' gambling. Simulated gambling games appear to have more effect on young men than young women.
At 16-17 years (under-age), 2% of young Australians were classified as being at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling-related problems. Two years later at age 18-19 years, 9% were classified as at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling-related problems.