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Gambling Addiction Among University Students


This chapter provides a review of the literature on the topic of the study. It gives the general understanding of gambling and provides common definitions of gambling given by various experts. We took a look at gambling activities which are popular among students, considering such activities as lotteries, poker, and sports wagering.

What is Gambling?

According to I.N. Rose (2013), gambling is wagering of a certain material value or money on an uncertain event, aimed to win more goods or money. Gambling consists of three major components, which are Chance, Consideration, and Prize.

In McGill University, any activity, in particular, game, which offers you to win money by risking valuable object, is considered gambling. If somebody tries gambling, he or she must clearly understand that they risk money or another valuable object, as well as that a bet cannot be reversed and the outcome of such a game is unknown, being determined only by a chance.

History of Gambling

Gambling was popular among people from all civilizations, throughout the world’s history. Evidence of gambling was found in many ancient ruins and tombs. People of the past invented special marked objects to play with luck, and also trying to see the future.

Anthropologists note that gambling was more popular in societies where religion and spiritual beliefs played a key role. In the 17th century, many gambling houses became legal, and mathematicians started studying principles of gambling, developing the probability theory.

In the late 18th century, official bodies started changing gambling policy. Traditionally, gambling was considered a sin, thus being condemned and often banned. Now gambling was considered just another human weakness, so people started to search for ways to make gambling less risky and more entertaining. As a result, sports betting appeared.

Statistically, at the beginning of the 21st century, four out of five people from western countries gambled at least once a week.


A person who wagers valuable objects on the outcome of sporting games is a gambler. Gamblers also visit special facilities and place bets on different games. Generally, gamblers can be divided into three groups: professional gamblers, social gamblers, and problem gamblers. Professional gamblers are people who count on their gaming skills more than on luck, and this category is relatively rare. Usually, professional gamblers control their losses, as well as time and energy spent on the game, considering such an activity as a source of income. Other professional gamblers are looking for entertainment, and they consider bets a price for such an entertainment, regardless of their wins or losses. Problem gamblers are gambling all the time, they may have a gambling addiction, and this problem usually causes many other problems for their private lives and health.

Gambling Age

Different countries have different gambling ages. In some countries, gambling is illegal among citizens but legal for tourists. There are also countries where gambling age may vary for foreigners and citizens. An example of such a system is Portugal, where citizens are allowed to gamble by reaching the age of 21 or 25, depending on the type of a gaming house, while foreigners can play in casinos being at least 18 years old.

More than a half of western countries have gambling age equal to 18 years. At the same time, in some countries, this age may vary depending on a particular territory. In the USA, each state has its own laws regarding gambling age, and in Germany, it varies from 18 to 21 years.

Generally, there is a tendency of lowering the gambling age all over the world. Most western countries started with the age of 21, and then lowered this figure over time.

Top Gambling Countries

In some countries, gambling is extremely popular. Considering loss per capita among adults, we see that Singapore and Australia exceed other countries in money losses caused by gambling, which makes these countries especially popular among gamblers (American Gambling Association). The top-5 list of countries with highest gambling losses includes Australia, Canada, Singapore, Finland, and Ireland. In these countries, adult people spend in average $540-$1,270 on gambling every year.

Gambling in Mauritius

Recently, the Council of Ministers in Mauritius implemented the new policy, according to which bookmakers who operate out of the Champ de Mars now can work only on Fridays and Saturdays. Such a new policy is aimed to decrease the influence of gambling on Mauritians, since earlier bookmakers were able to take bets on Thursdays, when official programs of races were published.

In Mauritius, gambling was an important part of the social life for many years. Mauritians love betting on horse races, they gamble online, in casinos, and play “Loterie verte”. Horse racing is the most popular type of gambling in this country, but after the Lotto became a national lottery in November 2009, it attracted many players from all regions of the country. Jackpots and winning combinations are translated on the radio and printed on billboards. Supermarkets and petrol pumps sell lottery tickets and scratch cards. Now more people choose to spend their money on the lottery than on races, and many of them suffer from the so-called “jackpot fever”, when people spend much more money on gambling, watching how jackpot grows.

Types of Gambling

As we mentioned above, gambling includes many different kinds of activities. However, they have one thing in common – people do these things in the hope to win more money or just enjoying the game itself. In Mauritius, there are casinos, gaming houses (generally the same thing, but they are smaller and middle-class oriented), and various gambling shops. We are going to consider types of gambling in more detail.

Lotteries. The Lotto and “Lottery verte” are the most popular types of gambling in Mauritius, and these are also the most profitable gambling types for the government. Tickets for the “Lottery verde” can be bought almost everywhere, and every month gamblers check their tickets to see whether or not their combinations are winning. Tickets are sold for about Rs 10, and prizes vary from Rs 100,000 to Rs 10 million. The Lotto appeared more recently and became extremely popular among Mauritians. Players have to select 6 numbers out of 40, and then validate these numbers in any supermarket. Tickets cost Rs 20, and players are able to buy as many tickets as they can. Results of the Lotto are broadcasted live on the national TV channel on Saturdays. This lottery, as well as many others, uses the cumulative jackpot policy, which means that if nobody has won the Lotto this week, the jackpot is summarized with a new one. This motivates people who lost to play again, since every time they lose, they get a chance to win more. Jackpots of the Lotto vary from Rs 5 to 70 million.

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Horse racing. In Mauritius, horse racing was introduced by the English long before the independence, and it’s very popular even now. In the beginning, it was an entertainment for the richest people, but with time the government developed this type of gambling in order to get more money on taxes. Every Saturday, and sometimes on Sundays, horse races take place at the Champ de Mars. There are bookmakers all over the country; they take bets on Fridays, and on Saturdays, a lot of people gather in Port Louis to make fast money and have fun.

Casino. Casinos are special facilities where people can play games like poker, blackjack, roulette, big or small, dice, van lak, etc. Usually, casinos are located at specific areas, in order to attract more clients. Such places are hotels, popular touristic spots and attractions. There are many casinos in Mauritius, but these are not the only type of gambling facilities. Gaming houses are smaller than casinos, though not being less popular. Most games are based on certain mathematical principles, which guarantee that the house always has an advantage over players. These principles are illustrated by the term “expected value”. This parameter is always negative for the player. This is a reason why many players say that the house always wins. More and more casinos open in Mauritius every year, because the government understands all the tax benefits from such a business. However, taxes are not the only one source of income for the government, since patents on such a kind of business are quite expensive. Casinos attract rich tourists, especially so-called “gambling tourists”, who travel various countries specially to gamble. Along with that, there are several tournaments that take place in Mauritius, for example, the World Poker Tour National Mauritius. This poker championship gathers players from all over Africa and different places in the Indian Ocean.

Scratch cards. It’s a relatively new type of gambling, which is distinguished by its simplicity and availability. You can buy scratch cards almost everywhere. Players have to scratch the surface of the card to see a discrete combination of symbols. Everyone who got the right combination wins. An advantage of scratch cards which makes them so popular is that you can win instantly, while playing lotteries, you have to wait. Usually, such cards cost from Rs 20 to Rs 100, and prizes may vary from Rs 200 to Rs 1 million. All the scratch cards are owned by the Lottotech. It’s the same company that owns the Lotto.

Online gambling. Online gambling seems to be the easiest and the most convenient type of gambling. It requires players to log in to a gambling website; registration and fees are usually not required. There are many gambling websites on the internet, and it’s really simple to find such websites, since they often buy ads and show you pop-up windows on other websites. These sites allow users to bet for free, some of them provide users with the necessary information so that they could understand how much money they need to play a particular game. Many teenagers are involved in online gambling, and this phenomenon is also called “grooming”. Online websites provide teenagers with an understanding of what gambling is, so when they become older, they can be avid players.

Gambling Among University Students

According to statistics, most university students gamble without significant negative consequences. J.L. Derevensky and R. Gupta (2007) notice that 8% of such gamblers face serious problems with their addiction. Gambling used to be legal on campuses, but now it became illegal, though being available everywhere. Now gambling addition among students is considered a big problem along with alcohol and drug addiction, since it is able to change the behavior of the student dramatically.

Problem Gambling

Problem gambling is also known as ludomania. It’s an irrational will to play even when gambling causes significant negative consequences for a player. According to Blinn, Pike, Worthy, and Jonkman (2006), there are about 7.8% of university students who suffer from such a problem. As for the entire population of Mauritius, this figure equals 5%. Problem gamblers become isolated, they demonstrate worse performance, and often develop other dangerous addictions, as well as dangerous sexual behavior (Goodie, A.S. 2005). The social environment is the key factor that determines the probability of a student to become a problem gambler. If a student lives in a society that supports gambling, he or she has more chances to have problems with gambling (Wehner, M. 2007).

Gambling Addiction

As we mentioned above, there are many types of gambling, such as sports, roulette, poker, slots, etc. Problem gamblers often face problems with their work and private life, which can lead to the financial disaster. Some problem gamblers steal money to play or pay their debts. Some people think that there is no way out, but if a gambler believes that he can overcome such a problem and take a control over the situation, his or her life may change to the better. Many gamblers tend to minimize their problem, which is a reason why gambling addiction is called a “hidden illness”. Unlike alcohol or drug addiction, it doesn’t have any visible signs. First of all, gamblers must realize their problem and get more information on how they can overcome it (Jeanne Segal, Melinda Smith, and Lawrence Robinson, 2013).

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