Study reveals rising trend of young South Africans enticed by online gambling

A study by online market research company Infoquest has revealed that young South Africans are drawn to online gambling, with potentially devastating consequences.

South African research company Infoquest recently surveyed 300 gamblers, 139 of whom were aged between 18 and 34.

The study found that young people in SA who participated in online gambling and sports betting did so on average 11 times a month and that 39% of young gamblers used their winnings to gamble again, while 30% claimed they were gambling with excess funds.

“Addressing this issue is critical to safeguarding the wellbeing and future prospects of young people,”

– said Infoquest managing director Claire Heckrath.

“Young people, often drawn to these online games by the prospect of quick financial gains and the excitement of risk, are increasingly engaging in gambling activities, sometimes with devastating consequences. This trend can lead to addiction, financial instability and adverse effects on mental health and academic performance.”

Younger gamblers participated in more types of gambling activities than their older counterparts and had been gambling for between two and three years, the study found.

The most common reason for gambling, according to the survey, was “I need extra money and hope that I will win.”

According to Statistics South Africa, the number of unemployed young people in the country increased to 4.7 million in the first quarter of 2024. At the same time, the number of employed young people declined to 5.9 million, increasing the unemployment rate from 44.3% in 2023 to 45.5%.


Heckrath said:

“The Gambling Board has strict requirements, but whether these are adhered to is another story completely. It is very easy for [young people] to register online if they are underage by providing parental ID numbers, etc, and whether this is checked is a concern.”

“We have been in contact with the Gambling Board to get this information, but they have not responded to this question so far.”

“With the accessibility of online gambling platforms, gambling is now an activity that can be conducted in-home and anywhere and younger people are braver and take more risks, so this could lead to addiction.”

Heckrath said online gambling platforms used sophisticated marketing tactics and algorithms to target specific people. This, Heckrath said, made it imperative to implement preventive measures, provide education on the risks and offer support to those affected.

“As gambling becomes increasingly accessible through digital platforms, understanding these patterns is vital for developing effective policies and support systems to safeguard the wellbeing of young South Africans,” – Heckrath said.

“Winning can create a powerful psychological effect that urges individuals to gamble more due to a combination of emotional and cognitive factors, with gamblers believing that they will continue to win.”


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