Young people at risk of internet gambling addiction

Young people may be at risk of becoming addicted to gambling on the internet, it has been suggested. Renee Cunningham-William, Associate Professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St Louis, noted it is important attention is given to vulnerable groups, such as youths, at a time when states in the US are considering legalising web-based gambling in order to boost revenue.

Ms Cunningham-Williams claimed the net provides youngsters with more opportunities to take part in such behaviour, adding this is "particularly concerning because this generation is arguably the most technologically savvy of any generation in history".

She explained the web can serve to make these practices more attractive, accessible and available, observing previous research has found people who gamble via their computers are often involved in other forms of betting as well.

Ms Cunningham suggested a comprehensive strategy on the matter needs to be drawn up, which should involve both prevention techniques and education regarding the harms associated with gambling of all forms.

Dr Snehal Shah, Clinical Psychologist at the National Problem Gambling Clinic, commented: "Young people are spending increasing amounts of time online and are therefore exposed to - and have access to - countless online gambling opportunities.

"According to a recent review of studies on internet gambling activities of young people carried out at Nottingham Trent University, a significant minority of young people gamble online, including online money free gambling, which seems to play an important role in introducing children and young people to the excitement of gambling without the experience of the consequences of losing money.

"Crucially, the British Survey of Children, the National Lottery and Gambling (2008-09) found that online money free gambling is strongly associated with the development of problem gambling.

"This highlights the need for young people, teachers, parents and other professionals working with children and adolescents to be educated and advised on the dangers of online gambling and gambling-like activities."