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Gambling addiction in adolescence: betting, technologies and drug use

Pattern of online gambling and prevalence of gambling addiction in underage adolescents in the Valencian Community. Comorbidity with technology addictions and drug use

Mariano Chóliz Montañés and Marta Marcos Moliner, Universitat de València
Project selected in the Call for experimental research projects in the social sciences

Gambling is a health hazard because it is addictive. Adolescents are a vulnerable population group in this respect. This article presents a study carried out in 2019 of 1,934 lower secondary, upper secondary and training cycle pupils at 26 schools in the Valencian Community. The data was collected during the application of the gambling addiction prevention programme Ludens, a universal gambling prevention program that was developed at the Universitat de València. The program has been implemented for seven years in schools in the municipality of Valencia thanks to the collaboration with Valencia City Council’s Addiction Service. The results obtained show that adolescents’ favourite type of gambling is sports betting. The most addic-tive type is online slot machines. Boys exhibit higher gambling rates than girls, and also a greater preva-lence of addiction. As occurs with other addictions, adolescents who suffer from gambling addiction also have comorbidity (coexistence of different mental disorders) with other addictions, primarily to alcohol and tobacco; comorbidity with technology addictions is not so notable.
Key points
  • 1
       Underage adolescents gamble frequently.
  • 2
       The type of gambling practised most frequently by underage adolescents is sports betting, which is done mainly in public places.
  • 3
       At-risk gambling and gambling addiction are health problems in adolescence. Prevalence is greater in boys than in girls.
  • 4
       Not all types of gambling are equally addictive. Online gambling is more addictive than the traditional sort.
  • 5
       There is a high comorbidity between gambling addiction and substance use. Comorbidity between gambling and technology addictions is lower.

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