Underage gambling on the decline in Great Britain

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The UK Gambling Commission has published a survey showing that underage gambling is on the decline.

The 2019 Young People and Gambling survey – which looks at gambling trends of 11-16-year-olds in Great Britain – reports that 11 per cent of 11-16-year-olds taking part in the survey said they have spent their own money on gambling in the past seven days, compared with 14 per cent in 2018.

The long-term trend shows a decline in participation since the questions were first asked in 2011.

The most common type of gambling activity that young people are taking part in is private bets for money (five per cent) with a further three per cent playing cards with friends for money.

The survey looks at those forms of gambling and gambling style games that young people legally take part in (which includes private bets, playing cards for money with friends, 16-year-olds playing the National Lottery and gambling that takes place on premises that do not require a gambling licence), along with gambling on age restricted products.

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The research, carried out by Ipsos MORI, also shows that three per cent report buying National Lottery scratchcards in a shop in the past seven days and a further four per cent say they have played fruit or slot machines in the past seven days, an activity which typically takes place in family arcades or holiday parks.

Tim Miller, executive director of the Gambling Commission, said: “This report demonstrates that children and young people’s interaction with gambling or gambling behaviours comes from three sources – gambling that they are legally allowed to participate in, gambling on age restricted products and gambling style games. Any child or young person that experiences harm from these areas is a concern to us and we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to protect them from gambling harms.

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“Most of the gambling covered by this report takes place in ways which the law permits, but we must keep working to prevent children and young people from having access to age restricted products. Where operators have failed to protect children and young people we have and will continue to take firm action. This year alone, we have tightened rules and requirements around age verification to prevent children and young people from accessing age restricted products, put free-to-play games behind paywalls, and clamped down on irresponsible products.

“We have been raising awareness about where risks may arise from gambling-style games such as loot boxes and social casino games for some time. Even though we don’t have regulatory control in this area we are actively engaging with the games industry and social media platforms to look at ways to protect children and young people.

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“Protecting children and young people from gambling harms is a collective responsibility and requires us, other regulators, the government, gambling operators, charities, teachers and parents to work together to make progress.”

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