Young People and Gambling Report 2018

The Gambling Commission has today published its Young People and Gambling report 2018 that reveals an increase in gambling participation by 11 to 16 year olds in the last 12 months, although it remains at a lower level when compared with all previous years.

However, in its website posting on the report, the Commission points out that its research study (conducted amongst 11-16 year olds in Great Britain) has indicated that “more children are at risk of being harmed by gambling”.

To put the report’s findings into perspective:

  • it should be noted that the 2017 and 2018 figures are not directly comparable with previous years of the study that were based on 11-15 year olds in England and Wales and
  • the most common gambling activities being undertaken by children are:
    • bets between friends,
    • lottery scratch cards purchased by parents,
    • playing of Category C gaming machines in pubs (an area of concern highlighted by the Commission last week) and
    • playing cards for money with friends.

The headline findings in the report (that can be downloaded below) are as follows:

Gambling participation

  • 14% of 11-16 year olds had spent their own money on gambling in the past week (that is, the seven days prior to completing the survey), up from 12% in 2017 but still lower than rates seen prior to 2017
  • This compared to 13% who had drunk alcohol in the past week, 4% who had smoked cigarettes and 2% who had taken illegal drugs
  • The principal forms of gambling in the past week are placing a private bet for money with friends (6%), National Lottery scratchcards (4%)1, fruit/slot machines (3%) and playing cards for money with friends (3%)
  • Young people who have gambled in the past week spent an average of £16 on gambling during this period
  • Over the past 12 months, 39% of 11-16 year olds have spent their own money on gambling

Online participation

  • 5% of 11-16 year olds have spent their own money on online gambling in the past 12 months, but only 1% have done so in the past week
  • 6% have gambled online using a parent or guardian’s account
  • 13% have ever played gambling-style games online
  • 31% have ever opened loot boxes in a computer game or app, to try to acquire in-game items, while 3% claim to have ever bet with in-game items (so called ‘skins’ gambling)

Problem gambling

  • 1.7% of 11-16 year olds are classified as ‘problem’ gamblers, 2.2% as ‘at risk’ and 32.5% as non-problem gamblers
  • Boys continue to have a higher rate of problem gambling (2.0%) than girls (1.3%)

Attitudes and influences

  • 59% agree that gambling is dangerous and only 14% agree that it is OK for someone their age to gamble
  • Almost half of young people (49%) said that someone had spoken to them about the problems gambling may lead to
  • 66% of young people have seen gambling adverts on TV, 59% on social media and 53% on other websites
  • 49% had seen or heard TV or radio programmes sponsored by a gambling company and 46% had encountered gambling sponsorships at sports venues
  • 7% claimed that they had been prompted to gamble by a gambling advert or sponsorship
  • More than one in ten young people (12%) follow gambling companies on social media

The role of parents and guardians

  • 26% of young people have seen their parents or guardians gamble
  • 60% of young people think their parents would prefer them not to gamble at all, however only 19% stated that their parents set strict rules about gambling with no negotiation

Commenting on the report’s findings, Tim Miller, Executive Director at the Gambling Commission, is quoted as saying:

Protecting children from the harms that can come from gambling remains one of our highest priorities. In the areas we have regulatory control, we continue to strengthen the protections in place to prevent underage gambling, such as our recent proposals for enhanced age verifications checks for online gambling. But regulation alone cannot address all of the risks that young people may face from gambling. Our latest research shows that the most common forms of gambling by children do not happen in gambling premises. Some of these are legal, such as bets between friends; some of these are unlawful, such as gambling on machines in pubs. But all of them present risks to young people as there is no form of gambling that is risk-free. It is therefore vital that all those with a part to play in protecting children and young people – parents, businesses and regulators – work together.

You can read more about this on the Gambling Commission’s blog here.