Gambling Patterns and Problem Gambling Among Youth in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review

Document Type



Institute for Human Development


Mounting evidence suggests that youth in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) find themselves increasingly drawn to gambling related activities; an issue, that if left unchecked, can lead to adverse consequences including financial difficulties, crime and mental health problems. To better understand the psychosocial mechanisms underlying problem gambling, there is a pressing need to conduct more research on gambling related disorders amongst this vulnerable stratum of society. Against this background, the present review explores gambling patterns, attitudes and behaviors among youth in SSA—in a manner aligning with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. We systematically searched 8 databases including PubMed, Science Direct, Scopus, ProQuest, Wiley Online, Google Scholar, PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES for published research articles up until July 2019. A total of 1624 articles were screened, of which, only 13 studies met inclusion criteria. All of these studies were cross-sectional in nature and the quality of each study was evaluated using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale. Studies varied considerably ranging from neuropsychological and personality trait assessment to application of item response theory. Due to this study heterogeneity we could not conduct a meta-analysis. The results presented here suggest that the existing body of evidence pertaining to patterns of gambling-related harm among youth in SSA is weak. This study highlights the need for additional good quality studies focusing on gambling related behaviors and prevalence levels among the continent’s youth. Additionally, the findings reported herein emphasise the need for implementing social policies alongside effective public health interventions to tackle gambling addiction

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Gambling Studies