Sports betting puts youngsters at risk

Sports betting puts youngsters at risk

27 May 2011

Professor Gillian Sullivan Mort of La Trobe University’s  Centre for Social and Ethical Marketing is applauding moves to restrict betting when young people attend or view sports and to limit access to online betting sites in general.

gamblingResearch conducted in 2010 by Professor Mort with Associate Professor Margee Hume for the Department of Justice/Office of Gaming and Racing Victoria, showed most young people between 10 – 17 years of age do not even know what the words ‘gamble’ and ‘gambling’ really mean. They believe online activities or sports betting is just playing a game with no risk and little negative outcome possible.  The research showed that many young people believe their parents probably do not fully understand the risks and possible outcomes of online gambling either.

The study suggests the youth who participated in the research play only for rewards –for fun and mastery and to progress to a higher skill level. In addition to  a lack of understanding of consequences,  the youngsters do not fully appreciate the idea of ‘quitting while you are ahead’, however, negative reinforcement and outcomes such as a ‘loss’ did make the user stop. 

The research also found that advertising increased interest and exposure to available gambling and the ‘fun’ of winning. 

‘We know that it is behaviours performed repeatedly lead to habits and these habits are then a very strong predictor of future behavior even in the context of good intentions.’ said Professor Sullivan Mort

‘Parents’ gambling behavior has a strong influence on their children. Young people, who may be too young to bet on sports themselves when accompanying a parent or watching a game,  learn by observation and as young people go through adolescence they also tend to become more impulsive prone to risk taking,’ she added..’

Professor Sullivan Mort highlights that the lack of gambling literacy, the formation of habits and the natural risk taking of young people are factors that underscore the need to keep gambling away from family fun activities and sporting games and venues.

Victorian Government Department of Justice, Office of Gaming and Racing Report (2010) The impact of high-speed broadband developments and interactive gambling technologies on youth consumption of Internet (online) interactive gambling services and youth consumer well-being

Prof Gillian Sullivan Mort

Professor of Marketing, School of Management,
T:  +61 3 9479 1318 M: 0421 400 200  E:


Stephen Scoglio

Web and Communications Officer

T +61 (03) 9479 1604 M +61 421 347 816 E




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