Youth Gambling: The health and wellbeing of New Zealand secondary school students in 2012

Rossen, F. V.; Fleming, T.; Lucassen, M.; Denny, S.; Peiris-John, R.; Teevale, T.; Crengle, S.; Robinson, E.; Bullen, P.; Dyson, B.; Fortune, S.; Utter, J.; Sheridan, J.; Clark, T. and Adolescent Health Research Group (2013). Youth Gambling: The health and wellbeing of New Zealand secondary school students in 2012. Youth2000 Survey Series; The University of Auckland, Auckland.



Gambling has become a widely available activity in today’s society (Hardoon & Derevensky, 2002; Turchi & Derevensky, 2006). In fact, many researchers “have noted that an entire generation has now grown up in an era when lottery and casino gambling is widely available and heavily advertised” (Volberg, Gupta, Griffiths, Ólason, & Delfabbro, 2010, p. 3). Evidence suggests that it has become a popular past-time not only for adults, but also for children and young people (Derevensky & Gupta, 2000; Gupta & Derevensky, 1998a; Hardoon & Derevensky, 2002; Jacobs, 2000; Splevins, Mireskandari, Clayton, & Blaszczynski, 2010; Turchi & Derevensky, 2006). Moreover, research indicates that gambling is one of the first risky activities that adolescents become involved with (i.e. they begin gambling prior to experimentation with alcohol, drugs, sexual behaviour) (Volberg, et al., 2010). Whilst for many youth involvement in gambling does not result in problematic behaviour, others go on to experience serious problems (Dickson, Derevensky, & Gupta, 2003).

A vast range of adolescent gambling prevalence studies that have been undertaken over the past 25 years, across different countries, and incorporating general populations as well as youth specifically. Rates of youth problem gambling have often been found to be higher than the rates identified for adults (Huang & Boyer, 2007; Shaffer & Hall, 1996; Welte, Barnes, Tidwell, & Hoffman, 2008; Williams, Page, Parke, & Rigbye, 2008), with some estimating them to be more than double those of adults (Gupta & Derevensky, 1998a; Jackson, Dowling, Thomas, Bond, & Patton, 2008; Lesieur, et al., 1991), or up to three times as high (Rigbye, 2010). However, it has also been recognised that there is far less research in this field compared to that which has explored other youth risk behaviours such as substance use (Blinn-Pike, Worthy, & Jonkman, 2010).

The gap in New Zealand-based information regarding prevalence of youth gambling has been identified previously (Bellringer, et al., 2003; Rossen, Tse, & Vaidya, 2009) and in 2003 it was recommended that research be undertaken to measure the involvement of New Zealand youth in gambling as well as associated factors and gambling-related problems (Bellringer, et al., 2003). A limited body of research has since employed various sources of data to consider youth gambling in New Zealand (e.g. Gray, 2010; Ministry of Health, 2008, 2009; Rossen, 2008; Rossen, Butler, & Denny, 2011).

An extremely valuable source of information on New Zealand youth is the University of Auckland’s (UoA) National youth health and wellbeing surveys. To date, the UoA’s Adolescent Health Research Group (AHRG) has completed three National youth health and wellbeing surveys.

The Youth2000 Survey Series aim to provide nationally representative information on the health and wellbeing of young people attending New Zealand secondary schools. The Survey Series includes a wide range of questions about issues that contribute to the health and wellbeing of young people (such as substance use, injuries and violence, home and family) and allow researchers to take an ecological approach to identifying overall risk and protective factors in young people’s lives. Youth’12, a survey of 8,500 secondary school students throughout New Zealand, is the most recent survey to be undertaken by the AHRG. The inclusion of gambling items in the Youth’12 survey provides a unique opportunity to examine the impacts of gambling and problem gambling on secondary school students throughout New Zealand within an ecological framework.

This report was commissioned by the Ministry of Health and begins with a comprehensive review of the local and international youth gambling literature, followed by an overview of the Youth2000 Survey Series and methodology for Youth’12. A thorough analysis of Youth’12 gambling items was undertaken with results being reported under the following eight categories (detailed results for each set of analyses are also provided in the appendices):
- Students and their own gambling (Section Five);
- Unhealthy gambling amongst students (Section Six);
- Attitudes and motivating factors towards gambling (Section Seven);
- The impacts of others’ gambling on students (Section Eight); and,
- Risk and protective factors for student gambling (Section Nine);
- Gambling and Māori taitamariki in Aotearoa (Section 10);
- Gambling and Pacific young people in New Zealand (Section 11); and,
- Gambling and Asian young people in New Zealand (Section 12).

Finally, a discussion chapter provides an overview of the findings and implications.

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