This study examined adolescent gambling on school grounds (GS +) and how such behavior was associated with gambling-related attitudes. Further, we examined whether GS + moderated associations between at-risk problem-gambling (ARPG) and gambling behaviors related to gambling partners.
Participants were 1988 high-school students who completed survey materials. Demographic, perceptions, attitudes, and gambling variables were stratified by problem-gambling severity (ARPG versus recreational gambling) and GS + status. Chi-square and adjusted logistic regression models were used to examine relationships among study variables.
Nearly 40% (39.58%) of students reported past-year GS +, with 12.91% of GS + students, relative to 2.63% of those who did not report gambling on school grounds (GS −), meeting DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling (p < 0.0001). In comparison to GS − students, GS + students were more likely to report poorer academic achievement and more permissive attitudes towards gambling behaviors. Weaker links in GS + students, in comparison with GS −, students, were observed between problem-gambling severity and gambling with family members (interaction odds ratio (IOR) = 0.60; 95% CI = 0.39–0.92) and gambling with friends (IOR = 0.21; 95% CI = 0.11–0.39).
GS + is common and associated with pathological gambling and more permissive attitudes towards gambling. The finding that GS + (relative to GS −) youth show differences in how problem-gambling is related to gambling partners (friends and family) warrants further investigation regarding whether and how peer and familial interactions might be improved to diminish youth problem-gambling severity. The high frequency of GS + and its relationship with ARPG highlights a need for school administrators and personnel to consider interventions that target school-based gambling.