UKGC warns of Children’s gambling exposure and its consequences

The Gambling Commission has published its young persons survey, a report into the gambling behaviours of 11-16 year olds in England, Wales and Scotland, which warns of children’s exposure to gambling, and its long term impacts.

Relating to situations within which youngsters could experience gambling where risks are not always explained, new data has raised questions of the impacts these early experiences in consequence free environments could have.

Technology is one such example highlighted, with opportunities to experience gambling behaviours afforded through products such as, free-to-play casino games, social media or within some computer games.

With the commission stressing that these products do not have the same level of protections, or responsible gambling messages, as regulated gambling products.

In addition, the report also picked out the most common forms of gambling amongst the younger generation as being bets between friends, fruit machines in pubs and clubs and National Lottery scratchcards.

It was also pointed out that such activities are occurring within locations that don’t need to be regulated to provide gambling activities.

Tim Miller, Gambling Commission Executive Director, said “We require gambling operators to have strong protections in place to prevent children from accessing their products and are actively reviewing how some, like age verification, can continue to be strengthened.

“However, it is clear that many children’s experiences of gambling-style activities are coming from the playground, the games console or social media rather than the bookmaker, the casino or the gambling website.

“That’s why it is essential that we work across industries and with parents so that together we can protect children and encourage those that choose to gamble in adulthood to do so safely.”

The Gambling Commision also picked out its key findings in the report as being:

  • 12% of 11-16 year olds spent their own money on gambling in the past week (16% in 2016)
  • This compares to 16% who had drunk alcohol 5% smoked cigarettes and 3% who had used drugs (in past week)
  • 11% of 11-16 year olds have played free gambling-style social games online
  • 11% of 11-16 year olds have bet with in-game items when playing computer or app-based games
  • 11-16 year olds who have gambled in the past week spent an average of £10
  • 80% have seen gambling adverts on TV, 70% on social media and 66% on other websites
  • Most common forms of gambling (overall) include fruit machines (4%), private bets with friends (3%) and National Lottery scratchcards (3%)
  • 9% of 11-16 year olds had spent their own money on licensed gambling (ie where either the operator or the premises requires a licence) in the past week
  • 0.9% of 11-16 year olds are classified as ‘problem’ gamblers, 1.3% as ‘at risk’
  • 39% of young people stated that their parents had discussed the problems that gambling can lead to with them.

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