Problem gambling and protection of children have been in the focus of multiple UK stakeholders, most notably organisations that work to protect children and the UK Gambling Commission. We reported on the increased pressure on pub owners to ensure that people under 18 aren’t permitted to place wagers on pub fruit machines.
The Gambling Commission plays close attention to how young people are protected and whether there are any minors with a gambling problem. As you probably know, it is illegal to gamble in the UK if you are younger than 18. The UKGC has just published a report on gambling trends among young people, particularly those aged between 11 and 16.
Children gamble less
The Commission conducted a survey, trying to find out more about forms of gambling where young people can take part legally, such as placing private bets with friends, as well as illegal gambling, i.e. whether young people have access to these forms of gambling, etc.
It seems that young people’s participation in gambling has decreased in the past year. For instance, just 11% of 11-16 placed a wager with their own funds in the period of a week before the survey was conducted. That percentage was up to 14% in 2018. What’s more important, if we look at the long-term trends, the participation has been decreasing continuously ever since 2011, when the first survey was conducted.
Most young people placed private bets with friends, whereas slightly less popular type of gambling was playing a card game, again with friends.
About 3% of the participants bought National Lottery scratchcards from a shop, and 4% stated that they have played slot machines either in family arcades or at a holiday park.
However, it should be noted that the Commission changed its methodology and now the survey and, consequently, its findings are more accurate.
The UKGC will keep on tackling problem gambling
The Executive Director of the Gambling Commission had a thing or two to say about the report and its findings. Tim Miller, stated that there are few ways in which young people could gamble, including games that are not gambling strictly but include an element which can be classified as gambling, then there’s age restricted gambling products which children shouldn’t have access to.
Most of the activities that are reflected in the report, are actually legal forms of gambling, but stakeholders should take extra measures to ensure that children will be prevented from participating in gambling activities, especially when it comes to age restricted products. The UK Gambling Commission remains dedicated and will surely continue to take action and do everything within its power to prevent underage gambling.
Gambling style games, such as loot boxes and social casino games have been in the focus for quite a while and there have been several initiatives, especially when it comes to loot boxes. It is very likely that loot boxes will be banned in the UK soon, and not just in the UK. The Commission doesn’t always have regulatory control over these issues, but with its position and influence it is certain that it can affect the measures that are going to be taken.