Young People Gambling May Be More Common Than You Think

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How common is youth gambling?

The most recent research on young people’s gambling is the NSW Youth Gambling Study 2020. It found many young people gamble, in a variety of ways.

The NSW Youth Gambling Study 2020 is a study of young people aged 12 to 17 in NSW and their relationship to gambling. It took a close look at their current gambling behaviours and attitudes, including the migration from gaming to gambling and the impact of gambling advertising and normalisation on young people. It was an eye-opener.

  • Around a third of young people responding to the survey had participated in gambling in the past year.
  • The most popular forms of gambling were informal private betting, scratchies or lotteries, bingo and keno. However, a quarter of the young people who had gambled in the past year had participated in online gambling. The most common way they accessed online gambling was by using a parent’s account with their permission.
  • Most young people don’t gamble frequently. Of the 164 young people who had gambled in the last 12 months, more than 80% reported they’d gambled on their favourite form once a month or less. However, many of those who said they gambled did so more often. 9.8% gambled on their favourite form a few times a month, 5.7% about once a week and 3.8% more than once a week.
  • A small group of those in our study were found to be either problem gamblers (1.5%) or at-risk gamblers (2.2%). This is similar to the rates in the most representative youth studies.


  • 1 in 6 young people aged 16 to 17 in a national sample reported having gambled in the one-year period from 2015 to 2016.1
  • Almost 1 in 3 (31%) young people aged 12 to 17 in Victorian schools reported gambling at some time.2
  • In most Australian youth studies with participants aged between 12 and 17, 60% to 75% of respondents reported involvement in at least one gambling activity in the past year.3,4
  • The most common forms of gambling among young people are card games, scratchies and sports betting.5,6,7,8
  • Between 1% and 5% of Australian young people aged 12 to 17 are classified as problem gamblers.1,2,4
  1. Warren, D. & Yu, M. (2019). Ch 7 Gambling activities among teenagers, Growing up in Australia: the longitudinal Study of Australian children (LSAC) annual statistical report 2018, Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  2. Freund, M. et al. (2017). The prevalence and correlates of gambling in secondary school students in Victoria, Australia, 2017. Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and The University of Newcastle.
  3. Delfabbro, P. & King, D. (2011). Adolescent gambling in metropolitan Darwin: prevalence, correlates and social influences, Gambling Research 23:3–23.
  4. Purdie, N. et al. (2011). Report to Gambling Research Australia: gambling and young people in Australia. Australian Council for Educational Research, August.
  5. Splevins, K., Mireskandari, S., Clayton, K. & Blaszczynski, A. (2010). Prevalence of Adolescent Problem Gambling Related Harms and Help-Seeking Behaviours Among an Australian Population, Journal of Gambling Studies, 26, 189–204.
  6. Pitt, H. et al. (2017). Factors that influence children’s gambling attitudes and consumption intentions: lessons for gambling harm prevention research, policies and advocacy strategies, Harm Reduction Journal, 14, 11, 1–12.
  7. Delfabbro, P. (2011). From adolescent to adult gambling: an analysis of longitudinal gambling patterns in South Australia. Report prepared for the Independent Gambling Authority of South Australia.Jenkinson, R., de Lacey-Vawdon, C., & Carroll, M. (2018). Weighing up the odds: young men, sports and betting. Melbourne: Australian Gambling Research Centre, Australian Institute of Family Studies.


In international research, youth gambling prevalence is high across most studies, similar to Australian findings. Caution must be taken when comparing Australian findings to international studies as the ages of participants across these studies ranges from 10 to 19 while most Australian samples range from 12 to 17.

  • Great Britain: The most recent annual youth gambling survey completed online by students aged 11 to 16 indicated a gambling participation rate of 36% in 2019.9
  • US: A large-scale national representative survey of young people aged 10 to 19 reported 31% engaging in some form of gambling in 2017. Overall, 7.5% of the young people were identified as at risk of gambling-related problems.10
  • Canada: A survey of 3 Canadian provinces indicated that 41.6% of young people aged 13 to 19 had gambled in the past three months when asked in 2013. The most popular form of online gambling was online sports betting.11
  1. (2019). Young people and gambling survey 2019: a research study among 11–16 year olds in Great Britain, October, Gambling Commission.
  2. Zhao, Y. et al. (2018). Mobile gambling among youth: a warning sign for problem gambling? Journal of Gambling Studies, 38, 268–282.
  3. Elton-Marshall, T., Leatherdale, S. & Turner, N. (2016). An examination of internet and land-based gambling among adolescents in three Canadian provinces: results from the youth gambling survey (YGS). BMC Public Health, 16, 277.



GambleAware acknowledges Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians of the land and we pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging. GambleAware is an inclusive support service.
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