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Gambling Behavior Among Underage Adolescents in Hong Kong

Abstract

This study examined the prevalence of gambling involvement and pathological gambling among students aged 12 to 17 years in Hong Kong, and investigated the correlates of problem gambling. The DSM-IV-MR-J was administered to 1,121 students. The response rate was 89.3%. Sixty percent of the participants gambled in the previous year, 69% were infrequent players who bet less than 4 times a month, and 4.8% gambled at least once a day. Most (89.8%) wagered less than HK$100 a week, only 3.1% staked over HK$500, and 24% borrowed money to finance their gambling activities. The majority (78.6%) had started gambling before the age of 15 years. One-fifth (21.5%) transferred gambling payments at the betting venues, 44.7% were assisted by their parents and 19.7% were helped by peers. Using the DSM-IV criteria, 3.4% and 1.8% of the participants could be classified as pathological and problem gamblers, respectively. Significant gender (χ2(1)=8.3, p < 0.01) and age differences (χ2(7)=21, p < 0.01) were noted for such gambling addiction. Pathological and problem gambling were significantly correlated with age (r= 0.44, p < 0.01), gambling frequency (r= 0.41, p < 0.001), gender (r= 0.33, p < 0.01), early initiation (r= −0.31, p < 0.05), psychiatric disturbances (r= 0.25, p < 0.001), as well as parents (r= 0.21, p < 0.01) and peers (r= 0.18, p < 0.05) having gambling problems. The findings have implications for preventive initiatives.

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Correspondence to Irene Lai Kuen Wong.

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Key words

  • Adolescents
  • Gambling Addiction
  • Correlates
  • Prevention
  • School Survey