Australian teenagers are betting their mobile phones, misusing their parents' credit cards or even gambling with their virginity, a survey has revealed.
The research conducted by the Central Coast Problem Gambling Service found most teens over 14 have gambled for money or goods, whether it is in the playground, online or illegally at pubs and clubs, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
In accordance with the find, the service has responded by creating early intervention workshops that it hopes to extend to the Hunter through Woodrising Neighbourhood Centre in Lake Macquarie.
The study of 200 teens revealed that 62 percent of those under the age of 14 and 77 per cent of those aged up to 17 had gambled for money or items, including mobile phones and MP3 players.
Of those, a quarter had lost more than they had intended, and 6 per cent under 18 had played a poker machine.
Chris Davidson, manager at the Problem Gambling Service, said one girl confessed to losing her virginity over a bet, while another admitted he had stolen his parents' credit card and lost 3000 dollars in online betting.
Teens can bet online, mainly using overseas websites, with little more than their parents' drivers licence and credit card.
A counsellor for Woodrising, John Hazelwood, has worked as an adolescent and gambling counsellor in the region and said he had treated youths with poker machine habits.
He said the rising popularity of online gambling, especially online poker, meant many young people could hide their addiction.