Problem gamblers among students remain high in the UK

Problem gamblers among students remain high in the UK

Problem gamblers among students remain high in the UK
Students in the United Kingdom who gamble may be at a particular risk of developing a more serious problem with the activity, the latest edition of the Annual Student Gambling Survey has revealed. Commissioned jointly by GAMSTOP and Ygam the survey seeks to build a better understanding of the target group’s gambling behavior and how individuals in the group may be adversely affected by the activity. Some of the results presented in the survey already show a worrying trend. Out of the 2,000 student respondents in the poll, 60% admitted to having gambled in the previous 12 months, meaning that the figure is significant. This is nevertheless a noticeable decline from the 71% who said the same in the previous survey. Things grow more serious when respondents begin to outline how gambling has impacted their student life. For example, 46% of the respondents said that they had missed lectures, overlooked social activities, or otherwise underperformed in their studies because of gambling. All of that behavior is a sign of problem gambling according to the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). The good news in this year’s survey is that students who were qualified as “problem gamblers” were actually fewer than last year’s findings. The number, though, is still shockingly high, with 21% of student-gamblers falling under this category. Last year puts the number of problem student-gamblers at 24%, so overall there was a modest decline in the number of problem gamblers among students. What is worse, the figure is in stark contrast with what is usually touted by the industry as a “small number” of problem gamblers, usually 3% of the population. Yet, the data indicates that the problem may be more widely spread, and particularly among higher-risk groups. Young people in their early 20s are generally considered to be at a greater risk of developing a long-term problem with gambling. This is why jurisdictions such as the Netherlands are taking a very hard look at their gambling regulation and are toughening the rules for individuals under the age of 24, including stricter betting limits. Back to the study, some students were even forced to cut down on food because of having gambled away the money they would have otherwise spent on sustenance. The survey delved deeper into the exact losses of students on average per week. Students who gambled tended to lose about £35.25, or up to £1,833 annually. However, another substantial percentage, 15% of student-gamblers, lost even more at £50 a week. The survey also found out the following trends among students who engage in gambling and are struggling with controlling their habits. 32% had to resort to using their savings 23% spent money from their student loan on gambling 10% used money that their parents had given them 8% turned to their overdraft to fund their habit The most common type of betting activity for male students was online sports betting with female students betting mostly on the national lottery. The study further took a look at loot boxes, posing the question of whether “random chance purchases in games” qualified as gambling. Surprisingly, 51% of students agreed that this was indeed the case. Another 19% disagreed with the statement, and 20% were undecided. The study was commented on by Stuart Andrew MP, Gambling Minister, who acknowledged that young people between the ages of 18-24 can indeed be more susceptible to the pernicious influence of gambling. Ygam CEO Dr Jane Rigbye joined Stewart in commenting on the survey and arguing that many students have experienced increased financial strain because of the cost of living crisis, and that despite the general decrease in the number of gamblers, the numbers of problem gamblers remained fairly unchanged. “With gambling seemingly entrenched in university culture and participated in by the majority of students, the importance of our educational programs with students and universities cannot be overstated,” Dr. Rigbye cautioned. The results come amid an upcoming Gambling Act Review which will seek to introduce strict regulatory measures designed to better protect consumers. Students may be among the groups that could prompt a harder look at what such a review should actually include. Image credit: Unsplash.com

12 MAR 2024

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