Authors:Sebastián Giralt, Kai W. Müller, Manfred E. Beutel, Michael Dreier, Eva Duven and Klaus Wölfling
Background and aims
Gambling disorder is a significant public health concern. Especially, male minors have been shown to gamble in a problematic way, despite legal prohibitions.
We examined representative samples of students aged from 12 to 18 years (N = 9,309) in two German federal states to provide prevalence data and clinical description of risk factors for problematic gambling.
We found that about 40% of the adolescents reported engaging in gambling activities within the past 12 months and found prevalence rates of 1.7% and 2.2% for problematic gambling. Especially, use of online gambling and slot machines was found to be related to problematic gambling. Male adolescents with a migration background were of higher risk for problematic gambling and psychopathological symptoms were significantly elevated among that group.
The results indicate that participation in gambling activities is common among underaged adolescents and that prevalence of problematic gambling exceeds rates of adults. Similarly, problematic gambling is associated with increased psychopathological strain.
Given that a high proportion of adult gamblers report having started gambling in adolescents, our data emphasize the need for prevention and early intervention strategies for problematic gambling.