Recently, the UK Gambling Commission published its annual Young People & Gambling report, which certainly makes for some interesting reading. With so much concern over recent months regarding the increase in gambling addiction, as well as an increase in the concerns regarding underage gambling, the UKGC survey could not have come at a more appropriate time.
The 2019 survey conducted by the UKGC recorded the answers and opinions of a wide range of UK youths aged between 11 and 16, all across the United Kingdom. Interestingly, the UKGC’s survey not only looked at the sort of games that youth (under the age of 18) could play legally, but also at games and activities that would be illegal for them to participate in.
The UKGC’s Young People & Gambling survey is designed to be as comprehensive and as far reaching within the focus demographic as possible. Initial findings in the 2019 survey have shown some positive results, with a marked decrease in gambling habits among the age groups of 11 to 16-year olds.
Of all youth participating in the survey, only 11% admitted to spending their own money on various gambling activities over the past week. This is a decrease from the previous record of 14% in the previous survey year. Moreover, the latest statistics show a decline in trend over the long term, and the lowest percentage since the survey first began in 2011.
Among those participating in this year’s survey, the vast majority admitted to gambling privately. That is to say, those surveyed said that they would regularly make bets with friends over whatever they liked, and they would involve actual money. This activity equated to around 5% of those surveyed, while around 3% admitted to making bets over card games, also with friends, and also for money.
Other sectors of the survey, which was conducted by the Ipsos MORI Group, showed that around 4% of those surveyed admitted to playing fruit machines (slots) within the past week, and around 3% that admitted to buying lottery tickets or scratch cards, also within the past week. With those that participated in fruit machine gaming, most said that they accessed these games at holiday parks or at arcade centres.
There were some notable responses from the top directors of the UK Gambling Commission after viewing all data from the survey. Most notably, UKGC Executive Director, Tim Miller believed: “This report demonstrates that children and young people’s interaction with gambling or gambling behaviours comes from three sources – gambling on age restricted products and gambling style games. Any child or young person that experiences harm from these areas is a concern to us and we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to protect them from gambling harms.”
Neil McArthur, UKGC’s Chief Executive has also taken the gambling industry within the UK to task, particularly where the young and vulnerable are concerned. This includes a very high expectation of gambling industry leaders to show far more discernment and responsibility when it comes to advertising and marketing of gambling and betting related products.
Furthermore, the UKGC is working very closely with key players within the gambling industry to combat the scourge of underage gambling in particular. This includes strategic partnerships with GambleAware and ParentZone, as well as developing a range of educational and informational initiatives through the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.
As far as underage gambling on fruit machines or pub slots is concerned, the UKGC is taking this trend very seriously. In fact, the UKGC called on pub owners all across the UK to clamp down on underage gambling within their establishments. This includes a more proactive stance to combat underage gambling in pubs and drives to educate pub staff on how to deal with underage gambling when it happens.
This comes on the heels of a test run last year of hundreds of pubs across the country. The test found that more than 80% of all pubs in the UK failed in keeping underage (younger than 18) patrons from playing fruit machines on their premises. The Young People & Gambling survey has also spurred the UKGC to speed up pub compliance with underage gambling, based on this year's survey which shows that, of the 26% of underage teens that admit to gambling on fruit machines, at least 11% admit to gambling on fruit machines in pubs.