Young adults in universities are at higher risk for excessive gambling.
It is estimated that almost 105 000 undergraduate students attend a university program on the Island of Montreal every year. In the midst of this cosmopolitan milieu, where opportunities for gambling are numerous, understanding patterns of gambling and associated problems is key for targeting preventive actions and services in a public health perspective.
Lottery and poker betting remain the most popular activities among university students.
The survey was conducted with 2 139 undergraduate students representing all universities on the island of Montreal (except one) and their affiliated schools. The main findings revealed that lottery and poker betting remain the most popular activities and spending is highest when betting on Internet, mostly on poker. Gambling with partners, mostly friends and family members, was associated with lower spending and debts. Overall, approximately 6.2% of students were estimated to be at moderate risk for problems or problem gamblers whereas 9% reported experiencing problems in at least one major life domain due to gambling. Problem gamblers reported greater spending and debt and were considered at higher risk for hazardous and harmful drinking, cannabis and other illicit drug use, and for experiencing psychological distress compared to social and at-risk gamblers.
The findings indicate that various prevention actions are needed in the university milieu. Awareness campaigns should focus on risks associated with online poker especially with its increasing popularity among students. Still, environmental actions should also be privileged to control the availability and accessibility of gambling to students.
Sylvia Kairouz, Concordia University
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Call for abstracts
Deposit of the research report: August 2010