Engagement of adolescents in gambling is alarmingly high in Georgia, UNICEF report finds
The findings of the research on knowledge, attitude and practice of gambling among adolescents were presented to a wider public
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Tbilisi, Georgia, 25 February 2022 – More than one in ten adolescents say they practice gambling with different frequencies, more than a quarter of them are active gamblers and gamble for money a few days a week or more often. The age at which teens start to engage in gambling is young – 22 per cent of surveyed teens say the first gambling experience took place when they were 11 years old or younger and the majority – 78 per cent - started gambling at the age of 12 or older. One in five teens in the study who gambled reported being in a depressed mood because of gambling, and 2 per cent experienced self-harm.
The study conducted by UNICEF, in partnership with the Gambling Research and Ludomania Prevention Center, surveyed one thousand adolescents aged 14-17 years all over the country to study their knowledge, attitudes and gambling practices. The specific objectives of the research were determining the experience of adolescents in gambling for money, to study their gambling-related behavior, identify adolescents’ motivators and attitudes towards gambling and ludomania.
“Addiction to gambling among adults is a growing problem around the world, including in Georgia”, - Dr. Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia.
“The prevention of gambling is the most effective when initiated before development of gambling habits among adolescents. This could be achieved by awareness raising of the risks and consequences of at-risk gambling of the adolescents themselves, school-based education activities, informal education of adolescents, public health policy introduction and implementation”, Khalil added.
The study revealed that adolescents are easily influenced by environment. They rarely start gambling for money by themselves, usually they gamble first with friends/peers (51 per cent) or a family member (32 per cent). 24 per cent of survey participants gamble because their friends are gambling, while 16 per cent believe that gambling is a prestigious activity.
The main motivation for most adolescents to gamble for the first time, as well as to continue being engaged, is the desire to earn money and spend their free time. Other motivators for starting to gamble are boredom and the perception that gambling is popular.
Although minors are not allowed to enter the casino or register on online platforms, 24 per cent of the surveyed adolescents who gambled reported their first gambling to be at a casino, a slot club or a casino website.
The study found that the level of awareness of adolescents about the risks associated with gambling and gambling addiction is low. The majority of adolescents who gamble do not talk to their parents about gambling and its risks. One third of adolescents report that if they become addicted to gambling, they would not turn to anyone for help but try to solve the problem alone.
For gambling prevention among adolescents, in addition to educating young people about the negative impact of gambling, it is also crucial to increase knowledge of the parents, teachers, communities and health workers in early identification of multiple signs of problematic gambling behavior and in effective responding.
Psychological support for adolescents involved in gambling should also be provided. Establishment of the helplines for adolescents who require immediate help will be an effective support service for young people with gambling disorders.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/georgia/