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Are Young People at Risk?

28th April 2017

Youth Outreach Coordinator Megan takes a closer look at how young people are affected by gambling.

According to a Gambling Commission survey, 16% of 11-15 year olds are likely to have gambled in the past week. That’s more than have smoked a cigarette or had an alcoholic drink.

However, knowledge about young people and gambling remains low, and parents are unlikely to talk to their children about it. This lack of communication leaves some young people at risk of developing a problematic gambling habit, which can have serious psychological, physical and social repercussions. 0.4% of children could already be classed as a problem gambler.

Luck, probability, fate – what’s that all about?

Young people may be participating in gambling activities without adequate understanding of the implications. Responsible gambling requires knowledge and comprehension of the rules and rhetoric of gaming – the ‘house edge’, and ‘good’ or ‘bad’ odds, for example. Young people are more likely to use terms like ‘luck’, ‘probability’ and ‘chance’ interchangeably - which is an indicator as to why gambling can become a problem for some young people.

Keeping it in the family

As children, we are more likely to accept the behaviours, opinions and outlooks of parents and responsible adults in our lives. Young people’s whose parents gamble are much more likely to begin gambling and potentially develop a problem. There is a significant body of evidence to show that parents are often those who show young people how to use gaming machines and give them the money to start. Since many forms of gambling are legal (and often part of mainstream culture) the laissez faire attitude of adults is more likely to lead young people to gamble without concern for the legal, monetary and psychological implications.

Information overload

Young people seemed to be better informed than ever; with YouTube gaming videos to watch and sports coverage anywhere, any time, on demand. While more evidence is needed, research shows that the saturation of gambling advertisements in sports, on television and on social media may contribute to young people beginning to gamble. 75% of young people recall seeing gambling advertisements on TV. That, combined with a rising trend in targeted social media ads, means gambling is at the forefront of young people’s minds more than it ever was before.

GamCare’s new Youth Outreach programme provides free workshops for young people to educate them about gambling and risk, as well as free training for frontline professionals so they can spot signs of a problem developing and appropriately support the young people they work with who may be affected by problem gambling. More information and details on how to contact a facilitator can be found on our website for young people, parents and teachers