Gambling - not top priority in parents concerns

New study shows that gambling ranks sixth in parental worries

McGill University's International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviours has released a new survey on parental concerns titled Parents as Partners and partly funded by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.

The co-director of the Centre, Dr. Jeff Derevensky, told journalists this week that the study showed that underaged gamblers in general were more at risk of developing a gambling problem than adults, saying: "These rates are two to four times that of adults but they go undetected because teenagers don't lose their homes from it or their spouses, so it presents in different ways."

He was speaking Tuesday on a teleconference call with journalists to promote Parents as Partners, which took a sample of 2 700 Canadian parents to determine how "engaged" parents were with the issue of youth gambling.

The survey showed that the issue is low on parents' radar.

"Of the many concerns parents have about their children - from unsafe sex to drug and alcohol use - underage gambling ranks last," the study found.

It found only 40 percent of parents cited underage gambling as a concern, well below worries about drug use (87 percent), alcohol use (82 percent), drinking and driving (81 percent), unsafe sexual activities (81 percent) and even behind concerns about excessive video playing (64 percent).

DECODE, a private research group that has conducted research on youth gambling for a number of provincial gaming agencies was a partner in the research exercise.

DECODE's Eric Meerkamper said: "Parents can play an important role. For instance by not buying lottery tickets as Christmas presents for underage children."

The study also recommends parents not buy gifts which encourage gambling such as poker sets or other gambling-themed items.

Derevensky said his academic group is working with online gambling organisations to stop under-age gambling, and noted that reputable online gambling companies would not permit under-age gambling. He was, however, critical of the fact that many Internet gambling websites offer free not-for-real-money gaming where the underaged can play Texas hold 'em and other games.

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