One in four students who gamble may be experiencing harm and one in two say that gambling has affected their university experience, new research has found.
The survey of 2,000 students across the UK revealed that 71% had gambled in the last 12 months. Amongst those students who had gambled in the previous year, 28% were found to be at ‘moderate risk’ and 24% had behaviour categorised as ‘problem gambling’.
The independent research carried out by Censuswide is a follow up to last year’s survey commissioned by education charity Ygam and GAMSTOP, the national online self-exclusion service.
This year the survey included the Short-form PGSI – a widely used measure of ‘problem gambling’ in the UK population – which enabled the researchers to understand the level of risk experienced by students in the sample.
Half of all respondents reported that gambling had impacted their university experience, with 13% having trouble paying for food, 10% missing lectures and tutorials, 10% saying gambling affected their assignments and grades, and 9% struggling to pay bills or for accommodation. Despite this, 45% of those who gamble were unaware of the support available to them from their universities.
Almost one in two students who gamble (48%) say they gamble to make money, but only 11% report winning money in an average week. One in three say they spend £11-£20 per week on gambling; nearly one in four (23%) spend £21-£50; and 13% spend £51-£100. 4.5%, say they gamble because they are unable to stop.
Along with savings and their own earnings, some students are borrowing money to fund their gambling, with 8% borrowing from family and friends and 6% using payday loans.
More than 40% of students have bought cryptocurrency in the last year, which is much higher than the figure for the overall population. This is perhaps not surprising given the age profile of the student population, but in a year when cryptocurrency prices plunged this may have impacted the overall financial wellbeing of this group.
The full report has been published today and includes the results of questions asked both to respondents who had gambled in the last 12 months as well as those who had not. The questions to the latter group were rephrased to further understand their view on gambling behaviour and attitudes amongst their friends.
The report makes three key recommendations:
- Invest in universal prevention education in schools to help prepare young people to be resilient to the risks related to gambling before their transition to university.
- Gambling harms to be considered as part of every university’s health and wellbeing strategy.
- Further research to be conducted to better understand the experiences of students who gamble and how harms can be better prevented.
Dr Jane Rigbye, Chief Executive Officer at Ygam said:
“These findings give us insight into the attitudes and behaviours of students towards gambling. Building on the data published last year, we can now see that not only are a large percentage of the student population gambling on a regular basis, many of them are doing so in a way that may cause them to experience harm.
“The data further emphasises the importance of educating our young people on the risks associated with gambling. We’re working with our partners to tour university campuses across the UK to speak to students, deliver specialist training to university staff and to raise awareness. It is crucial that universities engage and take this issue seriously. We aim to work closely with many more universities to ensure they can help prevent the harms and support their students when they need it.”
Bray Ash, 29, who spent many years battling a gambling addiction as a student and is now studying to become a Mental Health nurse, said:
“For many, the research commissioned by GAMSTOP & Ygam will come as a surprise. However, for me it’s a reminder of the seriousness and proximity to gambling addiction that students face on a daily basis. During my time at university, I dealt with a severe gambling addiction that saw me confined to my room for days at a time. I spent my time in my room, alone and isolated, gambling day and night. I only left my room to buy food and on the odd occasion, I would see a friend.
“Propped up by the money from my student loan, I was able to fall into a gambling addiction that spiralled out of control until one day I managed to work up the courage to talk to my friends and family about it and get myself into rehab. At the time when I was first going through university, resources like GAMSTOP weren’t around. Now that they are and they are helping thousands of students, it’s always one of my first recommendations to anyone who feels that they might be experiencing gambling harms.”