UKGC seeks to broaden stakeholders in reducing under-age gambling

Publishing its annual Young People & Gambling report, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has re-emphasised that stronger partnerships and diligence are needed by multiple stakeholders to protect under-age consumers from engaging with gambling products.

Researching the gambling behaviour of young people within Great Britain for 2018, the UKGC reveals that 14% of 11-16-year-olds had participated in gambling activity in the week before being surveyed.

This figure is 2% higher than the findings of 2017, but the Commission emphasises it be ‘relatively low by historical standards’ – compared to 2011 when 23% of 11-15-year-olds in England and Wales had gambled in the past week.

Indexing its findings against UK population figures, the UKGC estimates that circa 450,000 11-16-year-olds have gambled in the past week, with the activity being twice as prevalent amongst boys (18%) than girls (9%).

As in previous YPG reports, the Commission identifies that under-age players often engage in gambling activities/behaviours that are ‘outside of the Commission’s direct regulatory control’.

Activities include wagers between friends (16%), playing on scratch cards purchased by adults or engaging in pub fruit machines (17%). Underage gambling activity is less prevalent at licensed premises such as betting shops, bingo halls and casinos.

Of those surveyed, the average spend on gambling activities was £16 from an average £28 disposable income (pocket money – money earned), with the majority of under-age players stating that they gambled to win money (46%) or because it is fun (44%).

When compared to other restricted activities, the rate of gambling in the past week among young people (14%) is higher than the rates of drinking alcohol (13%), smoking cigarettes (4%) and taking illegal drugs (2%).

At a risk/addiction level, YPG report details that at present 1.7% of 11-16-year-olds are problem gamblers, 2.2% are ‘at-risk’ gamblers and 32.5% are non-problem gamblers.

The 1.7% problem gambling figure represents an increase on 2017 (1.3%) and 2016 (0.9%) findings. However, the Commission states that this can be attributed to a broader questioning undertaken for its risk/problem-gambling screenings.

Re-emphasising protections, the UKGC has called for greater collaboration between regulators and UK businesses. Furthermore, the Commission highlights the importance of ‘parents as influencers of Children’s gambling behaviours’.

This November, the UKGC published guidance to pub landlords and hospitality groups detailing its concerns and measures for minimising under-age gambling engagements across UK venues.

Furthermore, seeking to mitigate potential future risks, the UKGC has teamed up with 17 global gaming regulators to research the ‘blurring of lines between video games, social gaming and gambling’.

Tim Miller, Executive Director at the Gambling Commission,said: “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 verification 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.

“However, 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.”

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