The global gambling industry has received further recommendations on how to improve its safeguarding for young people, thanks to the release of the UK Gambling Commission’s 2022 report.

The Young People and Gambling 2022 report aims to highlight where governments are going wrong in relation to protecting minors from the harmful side effects of gambling.

Gambling is legal in most countries in the West, but is rarely permitted for those under the age of 18. Indeed, the UK, Canada, Europe, Australia and most American states set the legal gambling age at 18.

Online gambling is permitted across large swathes of the world but there are regulations around advertising, security and safety that ensure minors aren’t introduced to gambling early.

Sadly, some do slip the net and some countries are witnessing a sharp rise in gambling-related issues among teenagers. So much so that one of the core components of the UKGC’s report is to identify the areas of concern, and tackle them.

The report interviewed 2,559 school children aged 11 to 16, between 14 March and 1 July 2022. Here, Gamble Online picks over the conclusions…

young people in gambling

Young people in gambling are more likely to bet if they see a family member doing so

Young People In Gambling Findings

It is worth noting before we look at the findings that the UK has some of the strictest, but also outdated, gambling laws on the planet. The government has shifted back the introduction of a new bill to fully oversee online gambling for the past two years, and there remains no end date as to when a bill may be published.

Still, the UKGC’s findings are pertinent for gamblers and the industry as a whole in Europe, America and Canada. After all, the UK is often seen as a benchmark to where these territories can take their gambling industries, considering how evolved it has become in London.

31 percent of young people gamble

This initially sounds alarming when you read the stats in silo, but of this 31% the majority is kids playing arcade games such as 2p penny pusher slots, or claw grab machines. This is a legalised form of gambling for minors in the UK.

Interestingly, just 1% of kids illegally bet on eSports, have bought scratchcards, have played casino games online, or have placed a sports bet on a website of app. However, considering there is an estimated 4,800 11-16 year olds in the UK, that means there are almost 500 kids illegally betting.

Family gambling is real

The report found that kids are more likely to gamble if they see their parents doing so. In fact, it was significantly more. Forty-seven percent of minors who gamble say they have experienced other family members going it, while just 22% say they had no prior experience in the family.

So, the evident conclusion to draw is that gambling in front of kids encourages them to do the same.

Girls bet on games, boys on sports

It was found that girls are more likely to gamble on games such as penny pusher slots and claw grab machines. Meanwhile, boys are more likely to wager on eSports and sports. This correlates with how gambling games are marketed the men and women. Men are usually pushed to sports, while women are attracted to the social side of casino gaming.

0.9% problem gamblers

The survey concludes that 0.9% of the UK’s 11-16 year-old population is addicted to gambling. A further 2.4% are high risk. All this despite regulations in place to supposedly reduce kids’ awareness of casino gambling and sports betting. Furthermore, boys (3.2%) are more likely to be problem gamblers than girls (1.8%).

General caution to gambling

While the above figures may be alarming, it’s interesting to note that the children surveyed responded negatively to the idea of gambling “to see what it’s like”. In a question “It is OK for someone my age to try to gamble to see what it’s like”, only 13% agreed in some degree of certainty.

What’s more, 52% disagreed with the statement “most people my age gamble”.

Information generation

Seventy percent of the kids interviewed said they felt “informed about the risks of gambling”. On top of this, 40% said they’d spoken to someone about it. However, the commercial appeal of gambling was evident in their responses to advertising.

Gambling advertising direct to minors is illegal in the UK but there are numerous loopholes. Fifty-seven percent of kids said they have seen gambling adverts on TV. Perhaps even more concerning is that 54% said they’d seen gambling-related commercial content on an app.

Combined 66% of children have seen gambling adverts offline (such as on TV or on billboards), while 63% have seen gambling ads online (on websites, live streaming, or apps).

Kids know about lotteries

The report reveals that children are more aware of lottery gambling than they are sports betting or online casinos. Forty-four percent of children have seen lottery ads, which most likely have come from TV commercials or on streaming sites.

Conclusions For Other Countries

The UK Gambling Commission produces a report into young kids and their gambling habits every year. It forms the basis for a strong practical examination of how minors interact with gambling products and advertising, even when they’re legally not allowed to do so.

Generally the number of minors gambling regularly is high – in terms of playing arcade games. But for kids betting on sports, eSports and placing casino bets, the number is low. This shows that regulation, on the whole, works.

However, what is also revealing is that kids’ attitudes to gambling changes when it is normalized by others – for example, family members. Once a minor considers gambling acceptable, they are more easily influenced and encouraged to bet.

Unfortunately, they risk doing this without the protections and safeguarding opportunities directly available to adults.

Joseph Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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