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A study conducted by the University of Tasmania last year found that 10% of teenagers admitted to gambling before they turned 16 years old.
The study was conducted by John Williamson and Christine Gardner at the university's Faculty of Education and titled "Weighing up the Odds". The study surveyed 606 teenagers aged between 14 and 17 across Tasmania and was commissioned by the provincial government's Health and Human Services Department.
Many members of the Australian media made issue with the survey finding that some children have tried gambling before the age of ten, although the details on this in the study were sparse. Other media members made much ado about teen's acceptance of gambling as a pastime.
Cassy O'Connor, the Minister of the Human Services Department said that the study would help provide information for various programs designed to help keep children from becoming problem gamblers.
"Toy gambling games and friends were listed as influences encouraging young people to gamble, while teachers and family were listed as strong influences against gambling," O'Connor said. "It was also concerning to see many young people didn't understand the concept of the 'house edge', the built-in element of commercial gambling that ensures gamblers will lose over time."
O'Connor also said that the government was working to debunk gambling myths through a "Know Your Odds" internet and television campaign.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who is the Chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform said that the study was a good first step, but noted that it must be followed by action. He was also alarmed that young children were reportedly gambling.
"We do know that young men, adolescents, are one of the main gambling groups, but I was shocked to learn that very young children were having this experience," Wilkie said. "That is a very alarming finding and that is important evidence for some sort of educational awareness being included in the school curriculum."