A comprehensive examination of adolescent gambling
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The purposes of this study were: a) to examine the prevalence and consequences associated with adolescent gambling, b) to examine the factors which influence adolescent gambling,. c) to detennine what factors discriminate among four groups of gamblers (no-risk/non-gamblers, low-risk gamblers, at-risk gamblers, and high-risk/problematic gamblers), and d) to examine the relation of gambling to nine other risk behaviours (i.e., alcohol use, smoking, marijuana use, hard drug use, sexual activity, minor delinquency, major delinquency, direct aggression, and indirect aggression). Adolescents (N = 3,767) from 25 secondary schools completed a twohour survey that assessed involvement in risk be~aviours as well as potential predictors from a wide range of contexts (school, neighbourhood, family, peer, and intrapersonal). The majority of adolescents reported gambling, although the frequency of gambling participation was low. The strongest predictors/discriminators of gambling involvement were gender, unstructured activities, structured activities, and risk attitudes/perceptions. In addition, the examination of the co-occurrence of gambling with other risk behaviours revealed that for high-risk/problem gamblers, the top three most frequent co-occurring high-risk behaviours were direct aggression, minor delinquency and alcohol. This study was the first to examine the continuum of gambling involvement (i.e., non-gambling to high risk/problematic gambling) using a comprehensive set ofpotential predictors with a large sample of secondary school students. The findings of this study support past research and theories (e.g., Theory of Triadic Influence) which suggest the importance ofproximal variables in predicting risk behaviors. The next step, however, will be to examine the direct and indirect 1 effects of the ultimate (e.g., temperament), distal (e.g., parental relationship), and proximal variables (e.g., risk attitudes/perceptions) on gambling involvement in a longitudinal study.