A new report performed by Randy Stinchfield, Ph.D., gambling researcher at the University of Minnesota Department of Psychiatry, reveals that gambling participation among “out-of-mainstream” youth in Minnesota is higher than for students in public schools. The research also revealed that out-of-mainstream youth gambled with more frequency than their public school counterparts.

The results of the study suggest that problem gambling may be a greater risk for this population than for youth in public schools. “Based on the data, it seems that efforts to educate out-of-mainstream youth about the risks and harms of excessive gambling would be well advised and a good use of resources,” says Dr. Stinchfield. “It may also be that some members of this population might also benefit from treatment assessments or treatment referrals.”

For purposes of the study, out-of-mainstream youth were defined as youth attending alternative schools and those in juvenile corrections facilities. While youth gambling has been well analyzed around the world and in Minnesota, it’s been difficult to measure gambling activity among out-of-mainstream youth because studies typically use public school surveys or random telephone surveys.

Consistent with a trend observed among public school students, gambling participation among youth in alternative schools and those in juvenile corrections facilities continued a gradual downward trend from 1992 to 2010. However, the rate of frequent gambling — defined as gambling weekly or daily —remained relatively stable from 2004 to 2010.

“While overall gambling participation may be down in general, the steady rate of those gambling frequently suggests the potential for future addiction remains significant,” says Dr. Stinchfield.

The study also looked at behaviors that correlated with gambling among alternative school students. These behaviors included tobacco use, alcohol use, drug use, running away from home, antisocial behaviors and sexual behavior.

In 2010, more than half of alternative school students (54.6%) and juvenile corrections center youth (51.1%) gambled in the past year compared to less than half of public school students (44.8%). Overall, fewer students were gambling in 2010 (54.6%) than in 1992 (77.8%), when alternative school student gambling data was first gathered.

When it comes to preferred modes of betting, the most common games played by all three groups of youth were cards and betting money on games involving personal skill, such as pool, golf or bowling. Youth were least likely to engage in gambling at casinos and online.

Data for the study was drawn from the Minnesota Student Survey, which has included gambling-related questions periodically since 1992

The full study can be viewed here while a Powerpoint summarizing the key findings can be found here.