Toggle navigation

Youth gambling in Australia

Lynette McGaurr

Gambling is a young person's problem

Evidence suggests the prevalence of problem gambling is higher for people aged 15 to 17 than for adults as a whole, and higher for people aged 18 to 30 than for other age groups (See Delfabbro 2012.)

A study for Gambling Research Australia conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research has found that up to five per cent of young people in Australia will develop gambling problems before the age of 25 (Purdie et al. 2011).

Proportion of people aged 10 to 24 in each gambling category

Source: Gambling Research Australia (Purdie et al. 2011)


Many studies have found that young males gamble more frequently and problematically than young females (See Moore et al. 2013; Purdie et al. 2011; Delfabbro 2012).

At-risk & problem gambling – males and females aged 10 to 24

Source: Gambling Research Australia (Purdie et al. 2011)


Popular forms of youth gambling

Along with card games played in homes, lotteries (including scratch cards) are particularly popular with under-age gamblers (Delfabbro 2012; Purdie et al. 2011), but they are less popular with young adults aged 18 to 24 than with older adults (Delfabbro 2012). Poker machines (also called electronic gambling machines, or EGMs) are Australia’s most problematic form of gambling, and as noted by Delfabbro, ‘poker machine players are significantly more likely to be in the 18–24 age group’ (Delfabbro 2012, p.2).


Sports betting

Canadian focus-group research has found that young men experience an ‘adrenaline rush’ from sports betting and see it as a way of demonstrating support for their team (Korn, Hurson & Reynolds nd, p.3). This may be of concern, because sports betting is increasingly associated with gambling problems (Thomas, Lewis et al. 2012). Preliminary research among adults conducted by the Centre for Gambling Research and Education also suggests sports betting is gaining in popularity faster than any other form of gambling (See Hing et al. in Gainsbury 2013).
EGMs and sports betting – changing adult participation in EGMs and sports betting

Source: Preliminary findings, centre for gambling research and education (Hing et al. in Gainsbury 2013)

Videogames and youth gambling

Videogames are extremely popular with young males. Incorporating gambling-like features into popular videogames has the potential to blur the boundary between videogaming and gambling (Griffiths, King & Delfabbro 2013). Recent research suggests more than 40 per cent of young people who have an interest in videogames with gambling-like features also have a preoccupation with gambling or intend to gamble in the future (King et al. forthcoming).

Playing videogames

Eighty-two per cent of boys aged 8 to 17 play videogames, compared to 58 per cent of girls, and boys spend an average of 55 minutes a day on the pastime, compared to an average of 24 minutes for girls


Source: ACMA 2007, p.86

Further reading

More information

Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce

Australian Gambling Research Centre, Australian Institute of Family Studies

Australian Medical Association

Gambling Research Australia

National Association for Gambling Studies

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation

Australian academic research centres

Centre for Gambling Education and Research, Southern Cross University

Centre for Gambling Research, Australian National University

Centre for Health Initiatives, University of Wollongong

Flinders Centre for Gambling Research, Flinders University

Gambling Research Program, Swinburne University

Gambling Treatment Clinic, University of Sydney

Independent Gambling Research Consortium, University of Adelaide

Melbourne Monash Problem Gambling Research and Treatment Centre

International youth-gambling research centre

International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors, McGill University, Canada

Industry bodies

Australasian Gaming Council

Australian Wagering Council

Betsafe Responsible Gambling Program

Casinos and Resorts Australasia

Clubs Australia

Support services for gamblers


Gamblers Anonymous

Gambler’s Help
1800 858 858

Gambling Help Online (including information about services in states and territories)

Kids Help Line
1800 55 1800


Salvation Army Gambling/


Government problem gambling websites

Australian Government

Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales

South Australia



Western Australia


For full references, please see the Face the Facts briefing Youth gambling in Australia.