UPDATED ON: by James Worden

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) published its latest research and findings into the gambling adventures and behaviours of youth and young adults (between the ages of 16 and 30).

This regulator provided a deeper insight into the ways in which young people begin gambling, and the role played by both friends and family along the way.

When the UKGC commissioned this study, 2CV came in to conduct it on behalf of the regulator, and they sampled 962 respondents.

The study relied on a combination of both quantitative and qualitative techniques to allow the regulator to better understand the views of this specific demographic in their own words and to reflect their own voice.

There was a particular emphasis on the consequences of being exposed to gambling as a child, on the involvement of friends and family members in gambling-related activities, and, finally, on the evolution of attitudes toward gambling as an adult.


Childhood Exposure to Gambling

One of the things that researchers discovered is that, despite the prevalence of early exposure to gambling and gambling-style activities, the majority of children engaged in passive gambling or gambling-style activities in their childhood, and did not engage in a proactive underage form of gambling.

Respondents stated that they were present or involved in gambling activities such as picking lottery numbers, scratching the Scratchcards, or picking a horse for a member of the family to bet on.

The majority of those who responded to the survey stated that their upbringing had influenced their perspective of gambling as a "fun treat," although they did not believe they were actually encouraged to gamble by adults in their lives.

Many youngsters took an interest in gambling as a result of their exposure to both the pros and cons of gambling.

Although many young people were exposed to both the positive and negative extremes of gambling, like having to witness massive wins and losses or having to face different perceptions toward gambling, many of them did not pursue gambling as a recreational activity until much later in life.

Unfortunately, in some cases, this type of exposure resulted in gamblers engaging in riskier or even more harmful gambling habits.

For example, 32% of moderate risk/problem punters reported that they were encouraged to gamble by their family members once they reached the legal gambling age, compared to 9% of those in the non/low-risk gambler group.

Friends and Family Members Play an Important Role

In their study, the researchers discovered that friends and family played an important role in shaping gambling behaviour, while advertising and marketing played a smaller role in influencing the tendency of gamblers.

Advertising was widely mentioned as a motivator or push to play, but was less mentioned as a reason for getting into gambling.

Advertising is primarily regarded as a trigger for young people to get into gambling.

A significant proportion of 16-25-year-olds confirmed that they spent at least half of their time gambling with friends; however, the research also revealed that problem gambling in all adults is more frequently associated with lone gambling than with group gambling.

Because social gambling can lead to increased peer pressure and a shift in people's attitudes toward what is considered "normal" gambling behaviour, some young people have stated that they feel encouraged by their peers to spend more money on gambling.

With Age Comes Different Attitudes Toward Gambling

According to these findings, young people are particularly vulnerable when they first move out of their parent's homes and gain independence.

In most cases, acquiring a job and achieving financial independence often coincide with the obtaining of full legal access to gambling, which, in turn, makes gambling more accessible and economically viable. 

By the age of 20-21, the probability of falling prey to gambling appears to be at its highest, while the likelihood of taking steps to gamble safely appears to be at its lowest.

Researchers discovered that gambling behaviour changed as people aged, fluctuating depending on their own experiences and those of their peers.

However, as people grow older, the research suggests that their gambling behaviour changes, fluctuating as per their personal and peer encounters when it comes to both wins and losses, as well as changes in their lifestyle and sense of responsibility.

Educating Young People on The Risks of Problem Gambling

Also, 2CV provided additional food for thought and recommended specific areas in which actions should be implemented to reduce the likelihood of developing problem gambling behaviours.

First and foremost, parental education should emphasize the importance of safeguarding kids from the extremes of gambling, since responsibly modelled gambling-like exercises appear to have a different effect on gambling prospects.

Education should be aimed at protecting minors and empowering them to define what constitutes safe gambling, as well as assisting them in understanding the odds and likelihood of losing money.

Second, educating young people on what qualifies as "normal" gambling behaviour in order to equip them with the knowledge and skills to make more accurate decisions about safe gambling, both for themselves and for their families and friends.

3rd, according to 2CV, education and early introduction to gambling should be "neutral" and must be geared toward helping children understand odds and the possibility of losing money.


Finally, researchers recommended taking a more holistic approach to managing problem gambling, such as working within social circles rather than on an individual level, stating that such an approach will have a longer-lasting positive impact on the problem.