Young People and Gambling statistics for 2020 published

The Gambling Commission has published findings taken from the annual Young People and Gambling Survey, conducted on its behalf earlier this year by Ipsos MORI, who surveyed just 1,645 schoolchildren in England and Scotland between the ages of 11 and 16 prior to schools being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March of this year.

The Commission’s website report on these findings reads as follows:

Young People and Gambling

About this statistical release

This publication provides information about young people’s participation in different types of gambling and the prevalence of problem gambling. It includes statistics about those forms of gambling that children and young people can legally take part in along with gambling on age restricted products.

The findings are taken from the annual Young People and Gambling Survey, conducted in 2020 by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Gambling Commission.

The 2020 study was severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of schools in Great Britain on the 20 March 2020. These results are based on a sample of 1,645 pupils aged 11-16 in England and Scotland, completed before schools were shut on the 20 March. Due to the early end to fieldwork, the results do not include Wales and therefore are not representative of Great Britain as in previous years. 

Given the smaller sample size, it is not appropriate to scale the figures to the wider population of pupils aged 11-16 in state funded secondary schools.

More information about the study methodology and the impact of Covid-19 on the research can be found in the accompanying technical report.


Gambling participation: This is the number of 11-16 year olds who have gambled in the last seven days. This includes illegal types of gambling and legal types of gambling such as private bets for money, playing cards for money with friends or 16 year olds playing the National Lottery.

Problem gambling: The DSM-IV-MR-J[1] screen has been applied to the Young People and Gambling Survey dataset to assess whether respondents who gamble are problem, at-risk or non-problem gamblers.

[1] Fisher, S (2000). Developing the DSM-IV Criteria to identify Adolescent Problem Gambling in Non-Clinical Populations, Journal of Gambling Studies Volume 16 No. 2/3.

Headline findings

  • 9% of 11-16 year olds in England and Scotland spent their own money on gambling activities in the seven days prior to taking part in the survey.
  • Respondents were most likely to have placed a private bet for money (5%) or played cards for money with friends (3%) in the past seven days.
  • 37% of 11-16 year olds in England and Scotland have gambled in the last 12 months.
  • Half (50%) of 11-16 year olds in England and Scotland have ever gambled, of which 51% of these respondents were with their parent or guardian the last time they gambled.
  • 1.9% of 11-16 year olds in England and Scotland are classified as ‘problem’ gamblers and 2.7% are classified as ‘at risk’ according to the DSM-IV-MR-J screen. 
  • 58% of 11-16 year olds have ever seen or heard gambling adverts or sponsorship, of which 7% said this had prompted them to gamble when they weren’t already planning to.

Who is this publication for?

The data in this publication may be of interest to members of the public, policy officials, academics, gambling charities or those working within the gambling industry. The statistics are used by the Gambling Commission and within Government for a wide variety of purposes. Some of the main uses include:

  • Understanding how many children and young people are participating in gambling and the types of gambling they are taking part in.
  • Measuring what proportion of young gamblers are classified as at risk or problem gamblers according to the DSM-IV-MR-J screener
  • Understanding why young people choose to gamble, and when they gamble where they are and who they are with. Conversely also understanding why young people choose not to gamble

Get in contact

We are always keen to hear how these statistics are used and would welcome your views on this publication. Please take a few moments to complete a survey about this statistical publication.

Other information

Young People and Gambling official statistics on participation and problem gambling 2020

Young People and Gambling Questionnaire 2020

Young People and Gambling Technical Report 2020

Young People and Gambling Data Tables 2020

Whilst the findings will no doubt be seized upon by certain pressure groups and critics of the gambling industry as evidence of the need for fundamental reform of the UK’s gambling laws, the following factors need to be borne in mind:

  • the three most prevalent forms of past-week gambling participation by children participating in the survey were:
    • placing a private bet for money (e.g. with friends or family): by 5% of such participants
    • playing cards for money (e.g. with friends or family): by 3%
    • any other gambling (meaning either (a) non-commercial gambling or (b) gambling on National Lottery products): by 3%
  • some very considerable doubt must exist in relation to the veracity of some of the findings, for example 2% of 11 year olds (equating to two children of that age based on the Young People & Gambling 2020 Technical Report, that you can download below) claimed to have visited a casino to play table games within the previous week
  • 91% of 11-16 year olds surveyed had participated in absolutely no form of gambling within the previous week
  • the 9% past-week rate of gambling has fallen from a rate of:
    • 11% in 2019 and
    • 23% in 2011.