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Young People & Gambling 2018

A research study among 11-16 year olds in Great Britain

The latest annual survey by the Gambling Commission to explore gambling behaviour among young people in Great Britain found that 14% of 11-16 year olds had spent their own money on a gambling activity in the week prior to taking part in the study. This is 2 percentage points higher than in 2017 but is still relatively low by historical standards: in 2011, 23% of 11-15 year olds in England and Wales had gambled in the past week.

When grossed up to population figures, the 14% of young people who have gambled in the past week equates to approximately 450,000 11-16 year olds. Gambling in the past week continues to be twice as prevalent among boys (18%) as among girls (9%).

The most common gambling activities that young people have spent their own money on in the past week are placing a private bet for money with friends (6%), followed by playing National Lottery scratchcards (4%), fruit/slot machines in an arcade, pub or club (3%) and cards for money with friends (3%).

Overall, the pattern of young people’s participation in different gambling activities remains broadly similar to previous years. Much of the gambling activity among this age group takes place in locations that do not require a gambling premises licence (for example, playing on fruit machines in pubs or private bets at school or at home). Underage gambling activity is less prevalent at licensed premises such as betting shops, bingo halls and casinos.

Among those who had gambled in the past week, the average spend on gambling activities was £16 from an average disposable income of £28 (money given to them as pocket money or money earned in the past week).

Compared to other potentially harmful 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%).

When gambling participation beyond the past seven days is taken into account, the survey found that almost four in ten children (39%) had gambled in the past 12 months, with the most common types of gambling over this period being fruit/slot machines (17%) and private betting with friends (16%).

Children who had gambled in the past 12 months largely did so to try to win money (46%) and because it is fun (44%). On the other hand, children who had never gambled were most likely to state this was because it is illegal at their age (57%), it is not something they are interested in (55%), and it may lead to future problems (41%).