Today the Internet offers countless possibilities, including easy access to online gambling. In 2008, the amount of money gambled on the Internet worldwide was between 15 and 20 billion dollars. Today, with an Internet connection and a credit card (or other form of electronic money), anyone may navigate a multitude of virtual casinos hosted all over the world. It is still too early to determine the collateral impact of this practice, but we do know that it may represent a risk for individuals known to be more vulnerable to developing gambling problems, including adolescents.
It is essential that prevention campaigns be initiated for youth, their parents and the general population.
While it is not yet widespread among adolescents, involving less than one youth in ten, Internet gambling is nonetheless one of a constellation of risk behaviours, such as psychoactive substance use and criminal conduct. Indeed, our study involving 1,876 Grade 9, 10 and 11 students revealed that a much greater proportion of youth who are introduced to Internet gambling show gambling severity, psychoactive substance use and delinquency than other students.
It is essential that prevention campaigns be initiated for youth, their parents and the general population. They need to be informed of the link between Internet gambling and problem gambling, delinquency and psychoactive substance use in adolescents.
Finally, we recommend systematic screening for severity of gambling (including Internet gambling) among young people entering youth centres and addiction treatment centres in Québec.
Main researcher: Natacha Brunelle, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
Original title: Trajectoires d’adolescents joueurs adeptes du jeu par Internet en lien avec la consommation de substances psychoactives et la délinquance