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Can't read my poker face

Parents of teenagers gambling on poker are largely unaware that their children are in serious danger of developing significant gambling problems, according to Bond University research commissioned by the Victorian Government.

Responsible Gambling Awareness Week is May 14-20, and Professor Sudhir Kale from Bond University says it is a timely reminder for parents to be aware of their teenager’s “poker hobby” and the tell-tale signs of gambling problems.

“Research shows us that the most pathological gamblers begin gambling when they are teenagers, or earlier,” said Professor Kale.

“We now know that adolescent problem gamblers are at heightened risk of suicidal tendencies and are more likely to be involved in delinquent behaviour and crime. Their academic results and family relationships can also suffer,” he said.

Professor Kale said teenagers engaged in poker gambling were particularly at risk.

In a large-scale study sponsored by the Victorian Government’s Department of Justice, Professor Kale examined the gambling habits of 2,000 Victorian teenagers aged 15-19, finding that those who played poker for money even once in their life, were three-and-a-half times more likely to develop a gambling problem.

“This research tells us that poker is in fact a lot more dangerous to adolescent public health than other forms of gambling,” said Professor Kale.
“Teenagers who belong to poker clubs are at an even greater risk.

“Our study showed that over 70 percent of all teenagers who belong to a poker club such as Australian Poker League or National Poker League face significant risks of becoming problem gamblers.”

Professor Kale said poker was being glamorised in celebrity culture and through highly publicised media events such as the World Poker Tour, which had contributed to its rising societal acceptance.

“The seriousness of just how dangerous the odd poker game can be for adolescents is being lost on parents,” warned Professor Kale.

“Our research revealed more than a quarter of parents or guardians were unaware of the fact that their child was gambling on poker. Thirty-eight percent of parents and guardians were aware of their child gambling, but were indifferent, while an additional 21 percent of parents approved of the activity. Only one out of every ten parents reportedly disapproved of poker gambling on the part of their child,” he said.

Professor Kale said parents should try and always be aware of their teenager’s entertainment activities and be on the lookout for other signals of a potential gambling problem, including membership of online gambling clubs, falling grades, spending a lot of time online or constantly asking for money.

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