Latest UK Gambling Commission Study Shows Teen Gambling Rates Down

Posted on: November 17, 2023, 06:50h. 

Last updated on: November 20, 2023, 01:41h.

An annual study the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) commissions on youth gambling in the country is hot off the presses. The results are encouraging, showing a decrease in teen participation in gambling.

The Tower Bridge in London at night
The Tower Bridge in London at night. A new study shows that teen gambling in the country is declining. (Image: Shutterstock)

The recently disclosed 2023 Young People and Gambling Report from the UKGC has unveiled valuable insights into the spending behaviors of individuals aged 11-17. This comprehensive report, traditionally centered on adolescents from 11-16, expanded its reach this year to encompass 17-year-olds.

The study is based on information from the Ipsos Young People Omnibus, annual research that explores a variety of topics. School-aged adolescents are surveyed on everything from social media use to politics to gambling.

British Teens Lose Interest in Gambling

A close examination of the report’s core findings underscores a pivotal shift in youth gambling habits. Specifically, 26% of 11–17-year-olds dipped into their funds for gambling activities over the past year. This signifies a discernible decrease from the 31% reported in 2022.

Delving into more granular categories, 4% of children allocated their funds toward age-restricted gambling products. This reflects a reduction from the 5% recorded last year.

On the front of problematic gambling behavior, the survey presents encouraging trends, with 0.7% identifying as problem gamblers, down from the 0.9% documented in 2022. The UK’s problem gambling rate across all segments hovers around 0.2%. Likewise, the at-risk gambling category experienced a decline from 2.4% to 1.5% over the same timeframe.

Examining the data through an age-specific lens, 16-year-olds emerged with the highest gambling rate at 26.9%. Meanwhile, 12-year-olds took the lead in the at-risk category, with 2.3% falling into this bracket.

In the realm of problem gambling, 13-year-olds topped the charts. 1.9% acknowledging tendencies indicative of problematic behavior.

A particularly noteworthy revelation from the survey is the observation that a significant portion of the gambling spend by children was directed toward products that currently lack age restrictions in the UK. This nuance underscores the need for a nuanced and comprehensive approach to address the various facets of youth gambling.

White Paper Invites Youth-Targeted Reforms

In the broader context of the UK’s gambling landscape, the ongoing white paper discussions on gambling reform are poised to instigate transformative changes within the industry. These proposed reforms aim to establish more stringent restrictions to prevent children from accessing gambling activities in any form.

The UKGC has outlined specific measures to be implemented. Notably, these include the removal of the existing exemption from age verification test purchasing for small gambling premises.

Additionally, an amendment to the “good practice code” is set to mandate licensees to verify the age of any customer who appears to be under 25 years of age. This is a jump up from the current threshold of 21.

The UK’s gaming regulator continues to discuss the white paper and its proposed reforms with industry players. Several consultations have already been held, and more are coming.

Next are talks about free bets and bonuses, as well as fines for violations of the bonus rules. To that end, the UKGC wants to increase the fines exponentially so that, as Executive Director of Policy and Research Tim Miller puts it, “the costs of non-compliance outweigh the costs of compliance.”