Study shows parents ambivalent about underage gambling

Inappropriate to give tickets as holiday gifts for children say lottery organizations

TORONTO, Dec. 8 /CNW/ - Youth gambling can have lifelong consequences but falls low on the list of parental concerns compared to more obvious risks such as unsafe sex and drug use. This is one conclusion from a major study by a Canadian research team looking at parental attitudes on youth gambling. "Parents as Partners", the first study to explore parents' engagement in youth gambling awareness, reveals very few parents are aware of youth gambling risks even as rapidly expanding new technologies offer teens more opportunities to gamble.

Researchers interviewed 2,700 Canadian parents as part of the study that was funded by a consortium of organizations interested in gambling behaviour, including lottery and gaming jurisdictions across Canada. The results show that many parents have not recognized this growing trend among youth, and that they are likely unaware of the direct correlation between gambling as a youth and problem gambling later in life.

"Canada is a world leader in researching and understanding gambling behaviours, and this study looking at parents of teens is a global first. However, while there are some resources on youth gambling currently available for parents, and other resources being developed, this is still an emerging area," reports Dr. Jeff Derevensky, Co-Director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University and a collaborator on the project.

Of the many concerns parents have about their children - from unsafe sex to drug and alcohol use - underage gambling ranks last, with 40 per cent of parents citing it. This falls well behind concerns about drug use (87 per cent), alcohol use (82 per cent), drinking and driving (81 per cent), unsafe sexual activities (81 per cent), and even excessive video game playing (64 per cent) by teens.

Research also shows parents are a primary source of lottery tickets for underage youth, as many don't view 'scratch and win' tickets as gambling. Some parents can also contribute to the problem by buying their teens poker sets or other gambling-themed gifts.

A positive finding was that 95 per cent of parents say they believe they are responsible for preventing underage gambling. In fact, two out of three parents think their children would be receptive to discussions about gambling.

The full report can be accessed online at

"Parents should be made more aware of the rapid growth of underage gambling activities, including on social networking sites like Facebook", says Eric Meerkamper, President of DECODE, the youth-focused strategy firm which collaborated on the study. "Encouraging parents to speak with their children about gambling is particularly important since unregulated online opportunities for youth gambling are growing at a phenomenal rate."

Provincial lottery jurisdictions are working to improve awareness of youth gambling and to remind parents not to buy lottery tickets for their children. The upcoming holiday season is a particular focus for this type of prevention campaign, as well-meaning relatives buy lottery tickets as stocking stuffers.


The "Parents as Partners" study was conducted between August 2008 and April 2009 and consisted of both quantitative and qualitative study elements. The study was developed and executed by youth strategy firm DECODE in collaboration with the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University.

2,700 Canadian parents with teenaged children were polled for the quantitative findings. The estimated margin of error is calculated at plus or minus 3%, 19 times out of 20. Qualitative findings are based on 24 focus groups with approximately 190 parent participants. The research was funded by the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, La Fondation Mise sur toi in Quebec, Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre, Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.



DECODE is a research, strategy and innovation firm that has focused for the past 15 years on assisting leading organizations develop stronger relationships with youth, young adults and young families. Specifically in the area of youth gambling, DECODE has conducted extensive research on behalf of the OPGRC, Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation. DECODE has offices in Toronto and London, UK.

International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors (

The International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University, under the direction of Drs. Derevensky and Gupta, has been involved in research, prevention, and the training of professionals concerning youth gambling problems and high risk behaviors for the past twenty years. The Centre's prevention work includes the development of an award-winning line of education and awareness products, featuring multimedia reference kits for doctors and lawyers, a docudrama DVD, educational computer games, workshops and a board game. The Centre's staff have been involved in extensive consultation work for non-profit organizations and governments throughout Canada, U.S., Europe, Singapore, Asia, Australia, South America, New Zealand, and South Korea.

For some helpful resources on how parents can educate their children on gambling, please see:

Regional Lottery Contacts:

    Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission    Manitoba Lotteries Corporation
    Christine Wronko                        Bev Mehmel
    Communications Manager                  Director, Responsible Gaming
    780.447.8719                            204.957.2500 x 2691

    Atlantic Lottery Corporation            Nova Scotia Gaming
    Jennifer Dalton                         Robyn McIsaac
    Senior Public Affairs Counsel           VP, Prevention Programming
    709.724.1718                            and Public Affairs

    British Columbia Lottery Corporation    Ontario Lottery and Gaming
    Trevor Miller                           Corporation
    Corporate Communications Officer        Paul Pellizzari
    604.247.3013                            Director, Policy
    Fondation Mise sur toi in Quebec
    Christine Durocher
    Program Coordinator


For further information: For further information: Eric Meerkamper, Partner, DECODE, (416) 599-5400 (ext. 30),; Dr. Jeffrey L. Derevensky, Co-Director, International Centre for Youth Gambling, Problems and High-Risk Behaviors, McGill University, (514) 398-4249,

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