Brigid Simmonds, Chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council reflects on the recent report on young people and gambling.
Last week GambleAware published the findings of their study into levels of betting and gaming during late adolescence and early adulthood. The findings add to existing research that highlights the importance of ensuring young people and their parents understand the risks associated with gambling.
The purpose of GambleAware’s research was to understand the behaviours associated with – and causes of problem gambling, while also exploring its relationship with other addictive behaviours and mental health amongst young people aged 17-24. The survey of 3,500 people in this age bracket, conducted by Bristol University, recorded that more than half of 17-year-olds have gambled in the past year – with patterns of problem gambling likely to be set by the age of 20. Individuals who were exposed to gambling by their parents were more likely to be at risk of addiction.
It is important to note that most young people gamble without harm and that the most common forms of gambling by 17-year-olds are scratch cards, the lottery, and private gambling with friends – all of which are legal. Nonetheless, the report underscores the importance of a collaborative industry approach which has a zero tolerance of betting and gaming by anyone underage. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to gamble with the BGC’s members. We firmly believe that educating young people and their parents about the risks and illegality of underage betting and gaming is of the utmost importance.
To address this, new age verification procedures were introduced this year for UK licensed operators that now make it virtually impossible for any child to open and use an online account with any of our members. Our members have led the way, adopting a whistle-to-whistle ban on advertising during the coverage of live sport. Additionally, the Youth Outreach programme, supported by BGC members and recently expanded by GamCare, has developed local hubs to help identify individuals at risk of problem gambling. The 2,000 professionals working on this project have already helped more than 7,500 young people. Such initiatives can ensure that when young people turn 18, they know the risks associated with betting and gaming and they can engage with a fair and safe environment in an enjoyable way.
Looking forward, as part of our recently announced Safer Gambling Commitments, BGC members will be providing £10 million towards a four-year national education campaign for adolescents and young people. Delivered by experts such as GamCare and YGam, the programme will interact directly with young people and support teachers. This will be complemented by mandatory PHSE teaching on gambling in schools from September 2020.
More widely, we are working with the financial services industry to ensure that young people cannot undertake gambling transactions when underage. We are also working with advertising bodies to introduce new technologies to prevent gambling adverts being seen by anyone under the age of 18.
There are two strands to our approach to young people and gambling. Firstly, ensuring that no one under the age of 18 can gamble illegally, and secondly providing young people and their parents with the necessary education and support to bet and game safely and responsibly.
We look forward to making great progress in these areas in 2020, working collaboratively with organisations across the sector.