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New research published by the Gambling Commission raises concerns that children are experiencing gambling in situations where the risks are not always explained. The data raises questions about the long term impact for children whose early experiences of gambling are in a consequence-free environment.

The figures show that new technology is providing children with opportunities to experience gambling behaviours through products, such as free-to-play casino games, social media or within some computer games, which do not have the same level of protections or responsible gambling messages as regulated gambling products.

Whilst the report shows that one of the most common forms of gambling amongst children is between friends, which is not subject to regulation, other locations are regulated for gambling, such as buying a National Lottery scratchcard and playing fruit machines in pubs and clubs. 

Tim Miller, Gambling Commission Executive Director said “We require gambling operators to have strong protections in place to prevent children from accessing their products and are actively reviewing how some, like age verification, can continue to be strengthened.

“However, it is clear that many children’s experiences of gambling-style activities are coming from the playground, the games console or social media rather than the bookmaker, the casino or the gambling website. That’s why it is essential that we work across industries and with parents so that together we can protect children and encourage those that choose to gamble in adulthood to do so safely.”

Headline findings from this year’s Young people and gambling report include:

  • 12% of 11-16 year olds spent their own money on gambling in the past week (16% in 2016)
  • This compares to 16% who had drunk alcohol 5% smoked cigarettes and 3% who had used drugs (in past week)
  • 11% of 11-16 year olds have played free gambling-style social games online
  • 11% of 11-16 year olds have bet with in-game items when playing computer or app-based games
  • 11-16 year olds who have gambled in the past week spent an average of £10
  • 80% have seen gambling adverts on TV, 70% on social media and 66% on other websites
  • Most common forms of gambling (overall) include fruit machines (4%), private bets with friends (3%) and National Lottery scratchcards (3%)
  • 9% of 11-16 year olds had spent their own money on licenced gambling (ie where either the operator or the premises requires a licence) in the past week
  • 0.9% of 11-16 year olds are classified as ‘problem’ gamblers, 1.3% as ‘at risk’
  • 39% of young people stated that their parents had discussed the problems that gambling can lead to with them.


Notes to editors

  1. More information about how we regulate the gambling industry.
  2. Useful statistics on the gambling industry

Contact us 

Journalists can contact our press office on 0121 230 6700 or email: communications@gamblingcommission.gov.uk

Posted on 12 December 2017