‘Gambling is a social and recreational activity for street children of Mumbai’

The findings revealed that regardless of reasons they leave home and take to the streets, many street youths spend a lot of their daily time and money gambling as a result of the influence of their peer group.

Written by ZEESHAN SHAIKH | Mumbai | Updated: June 6, 2017 5:00 am

A study conducted by the Eastern Michigan University along with the Don Bosco Research Center, Mumbai, has concluded that for street children in Mumbai, gambling is mostly a social and recreational activity. The findings revealed that regardless of reasons they leave home and take to the streets, many street youths spend a lot of their daily time and money gambling as a result of the influence of their peer group. The study states that younger children participate in gambling more by observing than playing. Reports of participants aged 12 to 15 indicated that half of them gambled for 2 to 4 hours daily and others for more than 4 hours.

This could be because there are limited options for younger children on the streets, and so after working individually or begging for food, the rest of their time is spent mostly with the group. On the contrary, older youths disappear without telling the group, perhaps partaking in other activities such as prostitution, visiting clandestine adult gambling venues where a younger adolescent would instantly stand out as being out of place, or taking more serious drugs. For a young adolescent, spending more than 4 hours daily in gambling has a potential risk of turning into problem gambling.
The time spent continuously gambling depends on the availability of money and time, the turn of the dice (if a player was successively on a winning or losing streak), and the non-proximity of police.

In terms of money, close to 60% of the youths spend between Rs 1,000 to 1,500 a month on gambling. About 31% of participants spent between Rs 1,500 to 2,500, half their monthly income. Some study participants did mention budgeting the day’s wages-spending on essentials like food and a daily quota of cigarettes-before using the rest of the money to gamble.

When asked about daily amounts spent on gambling, respondents reported spending between Rs 50 and Rs 400. Each player stakes between Rs 50 and Rs 400 at the start of the game, and a player can win up to Rs 4,000 from a single card game.

“There is thus a need for agencies and governmental organizations to immediately improve recreational activities, offer awareness programmes, and create saving opportunities among their services to street children,” the report states.

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