Study: Punters' kids more likely to be problem gamblers

CHILDREN who regularly see their parents playing pokies or betting on horses could be more likely to become problem gamblers later in life, new research indicates.

The research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies on early exposure to gambling was released today ahead of a national conference next week.

AIFS Australian Gambling Research Centre manager Dr Anna Thomas said it depended on what sort of gambling children were exposed to.

She said a flutter on the Melbourne Cup or family card games were common experiences, but seeing a parent play pokies "excessively" or regularly attending race meets could normalise such behaviour for young children.

"Some of those with gambling problems as adults had also been actively encouraged to gamble as children, for example by parents who placed horse race bets for them, covering the cost of the bets and handing over winnings, but shielding them from the experience of losses by ensuring they were never directly out of pocket," she said.

The research included detailed interviews with 48 men and women aged 18-80 in Melbourne and rural Victoria, finding that problem gambling could be due to early exposure to excessive gambling at home.