Ways Young People Are Gambling

Unregulated online gambling sites (don’t enforce a minimum age limit)

These sites often include traditional gambling games such as slots, poker, blackjack and other casino games.

Using someone else’s online gambling account

Youth can use a legal player’s account to access age-restricted games.

Gambling-like activities within video games

Video games can include casino table games or slot machine simulations to wager virtual coins. These activities mimic casino-style games and have chance-based elements.

Risking points/gems/coins in video games for a chance to advance or get something

When a player risks their virtual currency or online valuables for a chance to advance in a game. This falls under the definition of gambling, as they are risking something of value, without knowing what the outcome will be.

Loot box unlocking

Loot boxes are virtual mystery boxes. The player is unaware of what they may find inside these virtual boxes and can use their real money or virtual currency to unlock the box which will then reveal the items. Items can include equipment, hairstyles, skins, and other decorative items or tools for the player’s video game character. Loot box unlocking can be considered gambling as it is a chance-based activity in which users pay a virtual or real-world fee to participate.

Skin betting

Skins refer to decorative items for video game players. These decorative items can have a certain value depending on how often or how rarely they appear in a loot box or game. Because of this, certain skins can have a very high value in both the virtual and real world and can be sold for cash on third-party sites. Users who have acquired valuable skins can use those skins as wagering items in casino-style games, sports betting, coin flips, or even a dare or challenge.

Fantasy sports leagues/Daily Fantasy Sport

In fantasy sports, people create their ideal teams based on the performance of real sports players. Computers combine the information about real-world individual athlete performances to determine which fantasy team has won daily.

If a fee was charged to enter a team, the winner may get part or all of the entrance fees from other members in the group. ‘Daily’ fantasy sports involve betting and winning/losing money immediately, rather than having to wait an entire season. The faster speed makes daily fantasy sports riskier to play.

Whether fantasy sports are gambling or a game of skill is a debate that continues to rage on. Selecting players can involve some skill. There are also many variables that may affect the outcome of a game that cannot be planned for. For example, unexpected injuries or personal issues of the players. What makes DFS controversial is the entry fees fantasy sports sites collect and the monetary prizes they pay out to winners. A growing chorus of legal and gambling industry voices are arguing that DFS is essentially sports betting — with the wager being placed on individual player performances rather than the outcome of a game.

If we look at this issue in terms of the definition of gambling, risking something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome, we could then conclude that sports betting is an activity based on chance as there is no guarantee on which team is going to win the game.

Esports betting

Esports refers to competitive video gaming. Esports include large-scale tournaments where professional video game players compete in leagues for prize pools that can reach millions of dollars. Similar to traditional sports (e.g. football and basketball) in Esports, people can bet on the outcome. Esports betting involves betting real money on the outcome of esports games or matches.

Social gaming

Social gaming is when people play games within a social networking site, through a mobile app, or in a video game. One of the most popular types of social gaming is simulated casino games and other gambling-like activities, called social casino games (e.g., Doubledown Casino and Slotomania). Social casino games are usually free-to-play and winnings are awarded as virtual currency. While not considered gambling, social casino games allow people to win more often than real casino games, which can lead people to try gambling with money.,⁶ Many young people like these games because they’re highly engaging and entertaining.,,

Scratch lottery games

Every scratch lottery ticket may have a different set of rules or ways to play. Scratch lottery tickets involve the user scratching the surface to reveal the numbers/symbols on the card and then the user can verify if they have a winning card. These lottery tickets have a more interactive element to them.

Arcade and fair games

These are games usually with a very low probability of winning. These games are usually fun challenges or games that appear to be based on skill. This can include claw machine games. Winning these games or winning several times in a row can result in participants receiving a gift in exchange for their win. Similar to gambling the user pays a fee for a chance to win something, usually in this case it is a toy or plushy. Oftentimes the toy that can be acquired by winning is not reflective of the cost of the game or the cost of the number of tries it takes a player to win.

Sports pools and betting

Players can bet money or something of value on the outcome of which team will win in a sports game or tournament, they may also bet on the number of points a team will score, or how many penalties they will receive. Any event that occurs in the game can be bet on and individuals will pool their money together when making these bets to encourage friends and family to join and essentially have a larger pot to win from. Although sports is a game of skill, betting on the outcome of a game is a chance-based activity as participants do not know what the outcome will be and make bets based on their guesses or predictions.

Raffle ticket

A raffle ticket is a ticket sold that has an associated number. Certain numbers will be associated with certain prizes. At a set time the numbers will be drawn at random and checked against the collection of prizes with the corresponding number. The holder of the ticket wins the prize. A raffle ticket is a form of gambling that is often done at a special event or in support of charity and attendees’ entrance tickets often go towards the raffle. The participant is risking their money for a chance to win something.

Placing a bet on a dare/challenge

Youth can engage in gambling by placing bets on dares and challenges. This is common among friend groups and during recess. Youth can bet their favourite toy or game or another valuable on a dare or challenge. If they are unable to complete it, they must give their valuable away.

Playing for keeps

Playing for Keeps can be done when playing a board game, card game or any other game where people can risk an item of value, and the winner of the game or the round can take possession of the other participant’s items. In a game of Pokémon, youth may risk their valuable cards in a game and the winner can take the losers’ cards as a prize.

Betting on card and other games with friends and family (e.g., poker)

Betting on card games can involve risking items of value or cash when playing with friends and family. Participants put an item or amount of cash on the line during the game and whichever player wins that round, or that game, can take all participants’ valuables and cash risked.

Claw Machines

Claw Machines operate similarly to other arcade-style games, where a player must wager something of value for the chance to try and manipulate the hanging claw to pick up a prize.¹⁹ The outcome of this game is based on chance as when wagering, a player is unsure whether they will be walking away from the activity with a prize.

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19. McMahon, Mary (2022). What is a Claw Machine? About Mechanics. https://www.aboutmechanics.com/what-is-a-claw-machine.htm

20: “Predictors of gambling and problem gambling in Canada,” Williams et al. (2021),” Williams et al. (2021)