The social dimensions of gambling among street youth in Mumbai: Is it really an addiction?

Document Type


Publication Date



Social Work

Publication Title

Qualitative Social Work


This mixed-methods, exploratory study investigates the gambling activities of street youth in Mumbai, India. Data from surveys and brief interviews of 70 youth aged 12–24, two focus groups, and ethnographic observations offer descriptive snapshots of the gambling behavior of participants. The article includes details about games played, popular venues, initiation patterns, time spent gambling, and interactions with the police. Street youth gamble for social benefits, such as group membership and fun; it is also a leisure activity enabling time to go by quickly. Individual benefits include intermittent rewards and a high after winning or being referred to as a gambler. The inability to save, the lack of recreation options, living in groups, and the environment of the streets structure and sustain gambling. This study discusses the group and social dimension of gambling among street youth, and how this dimension makes their participation different from adolescent gambling in general and General Addictions Theory. It contributes to the literature by emphasizing that for street youth the social/group aspects of gambling predominate the psychological. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for practice, highlighting the need to develop recreational, income-saving, and educational awareness programs.

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