Study: High numbers of young people experimenting with gambling
Largest UK study of its kind reveals popularity of betting activities
Two fifths (41%)
of young people aged 11 to 16 report having engaged in gambling in the past
year, a study shows.
The analysis from
DECIPHer, the largest of its kind in the UK, reveals fruit machines at an
arcade, pub or club were the most popular form of gambling, followed by playing
cards for money with friends and purchasing scratch cards. Placing a private
bet among friends and buying lotto tickets were also among the top gambling
Of those who said
they had gambled in the past 12 months, 16% said they felt bad as a result.
Boys were more frequent gamblers than girls. Young people from minority ethnic
groups, and students who felt that they did not belong in their school, were
also more likely to engage in gambling and to feel bad about the experience.
the results show more needs to be done to raise awareness of the risks of
gambling and recommend greater consideration of the responsibilities of
industry and government, schools and families in minimising young people’s
exposure to it.
Graham Moore said: “While over the past 20 years or so, lots of adolescent risk
behaviours like smoking and drinking alcohol have become less common, we are
seeing the emergence of new risk behaviours in today’s society. Our research
suggests that gambling might be emerging as a new public health issue.
shows that people who gamble earlier in life are more likely to become problem
gamblers in adulthood. The fact that there is widespread opportunity to gamble
and limited education regarding its risks means that adolescents are
particularly vulnerable to its harms. More work needs to be done, with
policymakers, schools, families and young people, to understand how young
people’s exposure to gambling can be reduced.”
Data for the
study were gathered from more than 37,000 students who completed gambling
questions as part of the 2017 School Health Research Network Student Health and
Wellbeing Survey, which represents 193 secondary schools in Wales.
asked a range of questions about gambling, including if they had gambled in the
past 12 months, how often they had felt bad about gambling and what sorts of
gambling they had participated in.
In the UK,
commercial gambling is legal only for those aged 18 and over with two
exceptions. Young people between 16 and 18 can legally purchase National
Lottery products, including draw-based games, scratch-cards and online instant
wins. There are no age restrictions on category D games machines, which include
Professor G.J. Melendez-Torres, who conducted the research at DECIPHer at
Cardiff University and is now at the University of Exeter, said: “Problem
gambling is associated with lower self-esteem, poorer school performance and an
increased risk for other addictions, as well as feelings of guilt, shame and
demonstrate the importance of educating young people and parents about the
potential harms of gambling and support policy recommendations for schools and
the education sector to raise awareness of these issues.”
The research was
quoted in numerous media outlets, including The
is published in the European Journal of Public Health and is available to view here.
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