Research Shows Continued Decline In Youth Gambling In Minnesota Students

What is the impact of Internet gambling and video games on young people? Are the rates of gambling and problem gambling in this population remaining stable or changing? Researchers Randy Stinchfield, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, and Marc Potenza, M.D., Ph.D., Yale University, will discuss this topic at the12thannual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction. Their session on Monday, October 3 is titled “What the Research Shows: The Latest on Teen Gambling” and will report on the latest research on youth gambling.

Regarding youth gambling, results from the Minnesota Student Survey suggest that the rates of youth gambling have declined from 1992 to 2007. According to Dr. Stinchfield’s (2011) study published inPsychology of Addictive Behaviors, an analysis of this survey suggests a decline in gambling behaviors among ninth and 12thgrade Minnesota public, charter and tribal school students. In an interview with the NCRG earlier this year, Dr. Stinchfield offered explanations for some of his findings.

To look at the changing patterns in youth gambling behaviors over the past 15 years, Dr. Stinchfield analyzed the data from this 126-question Minnesota Student Survey, which is administered by the Minnesota Department of Education and is given every three years to monitor many aspects of student demographics and life. This questionnaire includes six items addressing gambling behavior activity and frequency. In 2007, the survey collected its highest sample size of 83,260 male and female students.

Dr. Stinchfield’s study had two goals. First, he wanted to measure the 2007 rates of gambling frequency and underage gambling on legalized games. Second, he wanted to compare those rates to the longitudinal data collected since 1992. “This data confirms results from previous years that we see a growing segment of youth choosing not to gamble every year,” said Dr. Stinchfield.

While a majority of boys reported gambling in the past year (63 percent of ninth graders, 76 percent of 12thgraders), girls reported gambling less in the past year (30 percent of ninth graders, 49 percent of 12thgraders). More boys of both age groups were also more likely to report that they “frequently gambled” (monthly or daily) than girls, 19.2 percent to 4 percent, respectively.

The types of gambling activities shifted as children grew older. “Gambling in younger (9thgraders) kids is predominantly in informal games, while in older youth (12thgrade), it switches to more legalized and commercial games,” said Dr. Stinchfield.

When comparing the most recent data to results across the 15 year span, Stinchfield reports that there were “fewer students gambling in 2007 than in 1992.” However, rates of frequent gambling remained stable. Dr. Stinchfield analyzed gaming types including casinos, cards, lottery, skill games and sports betting and found that gambling rates were fairly stable for all. The only exception was a peak in 1998 for lottery play and in 2004 for card games. “The poker fad appears to have peaked in 2004 and has since faded in popularity,” said Dr. Stinchfield.

Youth gambling trends also showed a decline for various types of games from 1992 to 2007. Lottery play for boys declined from 43.2 percent in 1992 to 15.3 percent in 2007, and girls showed a decline from 38.4 percent in 1992 to 9 percent in 2007. Similarly, downward trends in underage casino play are shown in both genders from 1998 to 2007.

Beyond simply viewing a decrease in gaming activity, Dr. Stinchfield posed the more important question: What are some of the reasons that youth are not gambling? For Minnesota youth, Dr. Stinchfield gives two possible explanations. First, the novelty of gambling has possibly worn off. The state introduced lottery gambling and tribal casinos in 1990, and even though there are more than 3,000 state lottery retail outlets, 18 tribal casinos and two racetracks with card rooms, the “allure may have died down into a more normative pattern of gambling.”

Second, Dr. Stinchfield believes that gambling activity is “losing to other interests vying for their attention” such as social networking, video games and new technology. “Kids have a lot competing for their attention: iPods, Xbox, Wii games and more.”

Dr. Stinchfield believes that future studies should look at how those technological advances play into youth gambling behavior. “I want to understand what kids are betting on and the environment in which they’re placing bets,” said Stinchfield. “I want to know if they’re more likely to gamble on video games than a bowling game, or a real versus a virtual bowling game. We will see how the results translate.”

For more information on Dr. Randy Stinchfield or to register for the NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction, visit theNCRG Conference website. You can alsodownload the full NCRG Conference brochureand learn about other sessions to attend from October 2-4 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas.

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