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While real-money online gaming sites use verification to prevent underage gambling, free online casino game sites do not take the same precautions. Results of a recent study in Canada show these games are becoming increasingly popular among teens and may be linked to problem gambling.
Anyone with a computer or smartphone can access free-to-play online poker, casino slots, and other casino-style games. Although they do not provide the thrill of winning money or allow tens to rack up debt on their parents’ credit cards, they incentivize the games with points and prizes within the platform.
The study was conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. According to the researchers behind the study, one out of eight teens play casino games online. Around 12 percent of those teens surveyed said they had played an online casino game in the past three months. Between 37 and 50 percent of the teens who gambled for money showed some degree of problem gambling.
The survey also revealed that teens who were pretend-gambling online were more likely to have gambled for actual cash in real life. Other studies show that teens may be more at risk of addictive behaviors in general, including addiction to their electronic devices.
Dr. Elton-Marshall, the senior author of the study, noted that it is still unclear if adolescents are moving on to real-money gambling from social casino games. However, did confirm the evidence shows that social casino gaming builds excitement for gambling among teens and could encourage them to make the transition to real money gambling.