Despite the fact that adolescents are avid users of SCGs, and appear to be particularly susceptible to the negative consequences of these games, little is known about the characteristics of adolescent social casino gamers. In fact, studies of the environmental and personal factors associated with SCG play have focused almost exclusively on adult samples [10, 30, 31], and therefore potentially relevant variables specific to younger cohorts have largely been omitted from SCG investigations. Establishing the features that are typical of adolescent social casino gamers is critical to informing targeted intervention strategies, and to identifying at-risk sub-groups within the adolescent population.
Characteristics of social casino gamers
In studies of adult samples, researchers have HappyLuke identified a number of factors that are more characteristic of SCG players versus non-players [10, 30]. Specifically, researchers have noted that male SCG players are more likely to engage in competitive SCGs, particularly poker, whereas female SCG players show a preference for online gaming-machine games (e.g., slots), and for gambling games that promote social interactions . These results are in line with studies of online and land-based monetary gambling reported among adults and adolescents [32,33,34]. Additionally, adult SCG players are more likely to smoke tobacco on a daily basis, and are more likely to have used illicit drugs in the past 12 months in comparison to individuals who do not use SCGs . Lastly, compared to adults who do not take part in social casino gaming, adults who play SCGs are more likely to be employed full-time, but are also more likely to be unemployed or reliant on a disability pension . Empirical research is needed to determine whether these same characteristics that defines adult SCG users are also applicable to adolescents who take part in social casino gaming.
Although a number of the factors that are characteristic of adult SCG players are also relevant to adolescents, it is plausible that additional characteristics beyond those identified for adults are related to SCG play among adolescents. These additional correlating factors with SCG play are possible, given that adolescents are distinct from adults developmentally, and they exhibit gambling tendencies and preferences that are unique from those of adults [35, 36]. Studies of monetary online gambling among adolescents may provide preliminary insight into the manner in which these potentially overlooked variables are related to social casino gaming, given that SCGs and monetary online gambling games are typically used by individuals with similar sociodemographic profiles . A key factor that may have an impact on SCG use among adolescents is peer and parental transmission of behaviours and attitudes pertinent to gambling [37, 38]. Studies carried out in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong have shown that adolescents who have close friends or parents who engage in monetary gambling are more likely to participate in monetary online gambling [15, 39,40,41]. This role of close others in explicitly or tacitly encouraging gambling activities may be especially pertinent to social casino gaming, which often involves the sharing of SCG scores or the promotion of SCG play with one’s online social networks through social media websites .
Academic performance is another factor not studied among adult SCG users that may be relevant to an understanding of social casino gaming among adolescents, particularly due to the centrality of school activities to adolescent lives . Existing studies of online gambling show that poor academic performance, as reflected by lower grades in school, is predictive of monetary online gambling among adolescents [15, 43, 44]. Further, academic problems, such as missed classes, poor study habits, and failure to submit work, are also significantly associated with more pervasive monetary online gambling . These same patterns of effects may further extend to SCG use.