Monday, June 17, 2024

New study flags concerns over student gambling habits in UK

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Almost half of UK university students who bet are spending more than they can afford to gamble according to new research from the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) and Gamstop.

The third instalment of the report, first published in 2022, details the gambling behaviour of people studying at university. Censuswide carried out research on behalf of YGAM and Gamstop.

Of the 2,000 students polled, 60% said they had gambled in the past 12 months, down from 71% in the previous year.

However, of concern was 46% saying gambling has impacted their experience at university. This included missing deadlines and social activities, as well as adding financial pressure to cover basic expenses such as food.

Student gamblers lost an average of £35.25 a week, equating to £1,833 annually, while 15% are losing £50 or more per week. Of those surveyed, 32% of gamblers are using savings to bet, 23% their student loan, 10% money from parents and 8% their overdraft.

Online sports betting was the most popular form of gambling among male students. As for females, the National Lottery came out on top.

Influence on student gambling behaviour

the research found male students predominantly gamble on online sports

As to how students are influenced to gamble, 34% said their friends were the main reason for this. Some 26% stated sports events influenced their gambling behaviour and 23% social media. Both YGAM and Gamstop explained this demonstrates the need to educate young people on safer gambling habits.

There was also concern about the impact on students’ personal lives. Of those who bet, four out of 10 said they had been criticised by others for the amount they gamble. In addition, over half admitted to feeling guilty about their behaviour.

As for cryptocurrency, interest among students has seemingly declined. Some 32% said they had invested in cryptocurrency during the past 12 months, compared to 40% in the previous year.

“Since last year’s report, students have faced increased financial strain amid the ongoing cost of living crisis,” YGAM CEO Jane Rigbye said. “Despite a notable decrease in gambling participation rates among students over the past three years, problem gambling prevalence rates remain stable, significantly higher than those in the general population. We know the multifaceted harms associated with gambling extend beyond financial implications and any level of harm is unacceptable.”

Gamstop CEO Fiona Palmer added: “We have seen a significant spike in the number of young people registering for self-exclusion, with 16- to 24-year-olds making up around in one in four of Gamstop registrants. This shows the importance of educating them about risk before they develop a problem.”

MP raises concerns over findings

Gambling minister Stuart Andrew also responded to the study. He said young adults can be more vulnerable to gambling related harms. This, he added, is why the government recently took action by introducing wager limits for online slots.

“Alongside this, we are introducing a host of measures this year that will better protect young people from gambling harms, including financial risk checks, tighter controls on advertising and marketing and a statutory levy on gambling operators.”

In addition, Kellie McAlonan, chair of the National Association of Student Money Advisers, raised concerns at the data. McAlonan said it is concerning to see the extent to which students are impacted by gambling. 

“It is more important than ever that student money advisers are appropriately educated to best support students and to contribute to harm prevention measures,” McAlonan said. YGAM’s education programmes are integral to this.”

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