Gambling commission publishes new report on children and gambling trends

Posted Friday 30th November 2018

The Gambling Commission has recently stated that stronger partnerships are needed to protect children following a new report it published on 21 November 2018.  This shows that gambling participation by 11 to 16-year olds increased in the last 12 months but remains lower than in all previously reported years.

The paper did express concern that more children are at risk of being harmed by gambling. However, the most common forms of gambling that young people are engaging in are outside the regulatory control of the Commission; namely wagering amongst friends, playing lottery scratch cards purchased by parents and the playing fruit machines in pubs.

The key findings:

  • 14% of 11-16-year olds had spent their own money on gambling in the past week, 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 were placing a private bet for money with friends (6%), National Lottery scratchcards (4%), fruit/slot machines (3%) and playing cards for money with friends (3%).
  • Young people who had 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 had spent their own money on gambling
  • 6% had gambled online using a parent or guardian’s account.
  • 31% had opened loot boxes in a computer game or app, to try to acquire in-game items, while 3% claimed they had bet with in-game items (so called ‘skins’ gambling)
  • 59% agreed that gambling is dangerous and only 14% agreed that it is OK for someone their age to gamble
    • Around half (49%) of respondents said that someone had spoken to them about the problems that gambling can lead to, with the conversation typically taking place with a parent (40%) or teacher (21%).
    • 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.
  • 7% of 11-16-year olds are classified as ‘problem’ gamblers, 2.2% as ‘at risk’.

Tim Miller, Executive Director of the Gambling Commission said, ‘Protecting children from 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 verification checks for online gambling. But regulation alone cannot address all the risks that young people may face […]. Our latest research shows that the most common forms of gambling by children do not happen in gambling premises. Some of these are legal […] some of these are unlawful […]. But all of them present risks to young people […]. It is therefore vital that all those with a part to play in protecting children and young people – parents, businesses and regulators – work together.’

Whilst the Commission’s call for greater efforts from all areas of society to work harder to limit the risks of gambling to young people is to be applauded, it remains to be seen whether any societal measures will have the desired effect. For many young people further restrictions may simply increase the excitement associated with breaking the rules, whether set by their parents or through regulation.

Read the Gambling Commission Report: Young People & Gambling 2018.

This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.

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