Dr. Jeffrey Derevensky, co-director of the McGill International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviours.

Improving the odds for children at risk

The Internet has given the world the power to connect like never before, but it has also put at risk some of the most vulnerable members of society. Gambling, already a serious addiction for a rising number of children and teenagers, can be even more devastating when you bring the card table right into people's homes.

“More and more websites are moving toward online gaming, which has been shown to promote gambling among youth,” says Dr. Jeffrey Derevensky, Director of McGill’s International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviours.

The Centre is diligently leading the global charge in the study and raising awareness about youth gambling, with Dr. Derevensky and his colleagues serving as a foremost authority on the phenomenon. Established in 2001, the Centre conducts cutting-edge research, works with policymakers, develops empirically-based prevention programs, and provides consultation, training and workshops throughout the world.

And thanks to Campaign McGill donations from what at first glance would seem unlikely sources – Betfair Limited, International Game Technology, Casino Austria and Spielo International Canada, among others – the Centre has been able to heighten the global profile of its critical work.

“Overall, the funding is used to promote the Centre’s philosophy and research around the world. Very few people are studying youth gambling internationally,” says Derevensky.

As social media rises in popularity, cyber-bullying has also been added to the critical issues that preoccupy the Centre. “It’s an increasing concern, and we’re working with governments around the world to try to regulate that,” he explains.

With such high stakes, philanthropy is helping McGill researchers like Derevensky ensure that, when it comes to children and adolescents, nothing is left to chance.