Fewer UK kids gambling in 2017 but skin betting proving popular


uk-kids-skin-bettingFewer minors are gambling in the UK, which somehow has the usual anti-gambling media suspects crying bloody murder.

On Tuesday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) published the results of a new Ipsos Mori survey that explored gambling activity by individuals aged 11-16 years old in England, Scotland and Wales.

The survey found that 12% of those queried had gambled in some form in the past week. This is down one-quarter from 16% the previous year, and well off the 23% figure reported in the 2011 survey. Those who did gamble reported spending an average of £10.

Roughly 0.9% of respondents were considered to be problem gamblers, more than twice the 0.4% reported in 2016, although it’s worth noting that the previous study involved unweighted data for 12-15 year olds in England and Wales, rather than the 11-16 year olds in England, Wales and Scotland used in the 2017 survey.

This change in methodology also saw the number of respondents deemed to be ‘at risk’ of developing problem gambling behavior fall from 1.6% in 2016 to 1.3% this year.

Fruit machines in arcades, pubs and clubs were the most common youth gambling activities at 4% participation, followed by private bets, scratchcards, playing cards and lotto. Only 1% reported having gambled online in the past week, unchanged from last year.

Roughly 3% of respondents reported spending their own money gambling online, although this stat referred to having gambled online “at least once a year,” rather than the past week metric in the other categories.

Around 7% of respondents reported using a parent’s account to gamble online in the past year, but 88% of these reported having done so with the permission of their so-called guardians, making this less a case of operator laziness than some serious abdication of parental responsibilities.

Roughly 11% of respondents reported engaging in online free-play casino games, the same percentage that reported placing some kind of bet with in-game virtual items in computer games/apps. This spring, the UKGC released a position paper warning parents of the “dangers of gambling associated with video games.”

In terms of exposure to gambling promotional material, 80% of respondents reported seeing gambling adverts on television, 70% were exposed to social media promotions, and 66% encountered promos via other non-gambling websites. One in ten respondents reported following gambling companies’ social media accounts.

UKGC exec director Tim Miller said the survey made it plain 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.” Miller said this demonstrated the need for industries to work with parents to ensure kids were properly educated regarding potential gambling harms.