Youth gambling research mainly focuses on the illegal use of age-restricted machines, but coin pusher and crane grab machines are gambling machines that can be used by people of any age in the UK, and are also in use internationally. Previous cross-sectional evidence has associated recollected childhood usage of these machines with adult gambling participation and levels of problem gambling amongst adult gamblers. We attempted to conceptually replicate the findings of one of these studies (Newall et al., 2021), while addressing some limitations of that study.
A cross-sectional survey of 2,000 UK-based and -born participants aged 19–24 years. The measures were participants' recollected usage of coin pusher and crane grab machines as a child, whether they had gambled in the past 12-months or not, and the PGSI for past 12-month gamblers.
Overall, 5 of 7 tested associations were significant and in the hypothesized direction. Logistic regression models showed that adult gamblers were more likely to recollect using, and used at higher levels of frequency, coin pusher and crane grab machines, than non-gamblers. Then, negative binomial regression analysis showed that adults who recollected using crane grab machines at higher levels of frequency showed more gambling-related problems.
Discussion and Conclusions
These results suggest that childhood usage of coin pusher and crane grab machines may act as an underappreciated risk factor for the development of gambling-related harm across the lifespan. This information may be considered for further youth gambling research and policy.