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Latest Statistics Show Promising Downturn In Underage Gambling

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The UK Gambling Commission recently announced the results of its Young People and Gambling Survey 2019. According to the survey, which was carried out by Ipsos MORI, among the UK’s children aged 11 to 16 inclusive, 11% had spent their own money on gambling in the previous seven days.

This figure is down from the 14% that the 2018 survey produced.

The Executive Director of the UK Gambling Commission, Tim Miller, had the following to say on the survey:

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.

He also went on to say that: ‘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 form 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.’

For the survey, a total of 2,943 UK children aged between 11 and 16 were asked if they’d spent their own money on gambling in the previous seven days. The responses showed that 11% had – this figure is lower than the result of the 2018 survey, which found that 14% of those aged 11-16 had gambled with money in the last seven days.

Those involved in the survey were also asked whether they’d gambled at all in the past 12 months. Just over a third (36%) responded that they had. Again, this is down from the 2018 result of 39%.

Survey Results

The survey also looked at the different types of gambling young people took part in. It found that:

  • 2% of children aged 11-16 had taken part in the National Lottery, despite the minimum age for doing so being 16
  • 3% had purchased scratchcards for the National Lottery
  • 3% had gambled playing card games
  • 4% had played on slot machines
  • 5% had placed private bets among friends
  • 7% had gambled online before
  • 12% had played gambling-style games, including social casino apps
  • 44% had paid for ‘loot boxes’ to get randomly determined in-game items

Loot Boxes

Loot boxes are much more commonplace than in previous years, thanks to the prevalence of gaming apps. These boxes, when purchased using free in-game credit or real money, give the player an assortment of items. The problem is that some will keep on spending money until they get the item(s) they want – in other words, they’re gambling.

The Children’s Commissioner for England recently urged the government to do more to prevent children getting addicted to gambling through paying for loot boxes.

While the UK Gambling Commission is very much focused on protecting youngsters from gambling, there still remains a lot to be done. Of the various underage activities carried out by 11-16-year-olds, gambling is the second most common after drinking alcohol, which 16% admit to doing.

While the results of this year’s survey are heading in the right direction, the Gambling Commission will no doubt introduce new measures to drive those figures down even more.

James is an experienced journalist who specializes in covering online casinos and iGaming. Enjoys traveling and seeing new places. Keen theme park and roller coaster enthusiast. Contact him at

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