Summary: A new study has linked a higher risk of developing gambling problems in young people with free online casino games.
Online casino sites that are reputable work hard to create a safe game play environment. Operators who are licensed and regulated must adhere to certain laws and regulations within their gaming offerings. Such regulations include banning minors from taking part in gaming. From geolocation services to strict signup procedures, online casinos are supposed to do what they can to keep minors from participating.
However, there are free online casino games that youngsters can access and according to a recent study, it seems that such games are being connected to a higher risk of developing gambling problems among young people.
A new CAMH study was recently conducted in Canada in which online casino games were studied as played by young people. Free games that are themed after casino games are easy to find and apparently seem to be the gateway for gambling with real money involving young people. The results of the recent study showed that free games that are associated with casino games like slots and table games have created a higher risk of gambling problems among young people.
Free online games are open to anyone and are known as social casino games. These games allow players to try casino table games as well as poker, bingo, slots and more. Players can try the free games, betting with play chips, and getting the experience of playing a casino game. Rewards will be offered, like prizes and points. Such games are not legally classified as a gambling game because there is no real money wager.
CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research scientist Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, stated: “Adolescents’ participation in seemingly risk-free social casino games is a concern because we know that early exposure to gambling activities is a risk factor for developing gambling problems in the future.”
In the study, the group found that 12% of teenagers in three Canadian provinces played social casino games for a three-month time frame. Over 10,000 students aged 13 to 19 were surveyed, found to have played the games including poker, online slots and social casino games.
Adolescents were playing the social casino games and found to be more likely to participate in gambling for money. It is believed that the free games build excitement for gambling and encourage players to transition to gambling with money.
In the study, it found that 37 to 50 percent of the younger crowd gambled for real money and played the social casino gaming options, exhibiting that they had a low to high possibility of a gambling addiction. In the group, young people who just played gambling games for real money did not have a high a degree of potential for problem gambling.
Within the study, questions were asked related to gambling as well as if the teens were missing activities such as band or team sports to gamble. It was found that players were missing out on such activities to gamble. The study also determined that the social casino games offer higher odds of winning when compared to real money gambling games of the same type and it gives the impression to young people that they can win at the games. This causes teens to take part in the real money games and develop a gambling addition at an early age.
Overall, the study proved that parents, teacher and even young people need to be aware of the risk and take great care when playing social casino games. Real money games should be avoided until reaching the age of 21, when participating is legal.