UK Health Survey Shows Young Males Most at Risk for Problem Gambling

Posted on: December 27, 2013, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: December 20, 2013, 09:38h.

National Lottery UK Gambling Study
While many Brits don’t consider buying a lottery ticket to be “gambling,” well over 60 percent have participated (Image: BBC)

One in 20 British males between the ages of 16 to 24 can be classified as either a moderate risk or a problem gambler, showing that young men are particularly vulnerable to gambling addiction issues, according to the UK’s Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Brits Like to Gamble

The findings of a recent study from the organization – undertaken as part of a national public health study by the HSCIC – summarized gambling as a “majority” pursuit in the United Kingdom and showed that 68 percent of men and 61 percent of women had gambled at least once in the previous 12 months.

On the whole, the findings have shown that those most likely to have a little gamble here and there are those aged between 24 and 75 years old.

However, the research also shows that one in six young men in the UK population reported at least one of the signs of problem gambling last year, and more than one in ten males from the youngest age bracket said they would chase their losses through wagering more money.

“The increased levels of gambling engagement among young men highlights them as a particular group who may be at risk of experiencing of gambling-related harm,” noted the report.

Of those involved, a further one in 20 admitted feelings of guilt about their gambling habits, and many even said they gambled more than they could afford to lose, borrowed money and sold possessions to fund their habit, and even suffered health problems as a result of gambling in the form of stress.

The study further pointed out that problem gambling can have destructive effects on a person’s life, as well as their family’s in the most serious cases, and has been known to lead to depression, insomnia and alcohol abuse for some. In fact, almost one percent of the participants admitted to occasionally committing a crime in order to fund their gambling habit.

When statistics across all age groups were taken into account, the figures showed that one in 14 men were identified as “at risk” from their gambling habits, while these numbers dropped to one in 50 in female cases.

Topping the gambling popularity charts was the National Lottery draw, which attracts a large number of customers for its twice-weekly draw,and for which many people do not even consider purchasing a ticket as gambling. Scratchcards, other lotteries and horse racing followed behind the national draws.

At this point, the research cannot be compared to data from previous years, as this is the first time the Health Survey for England has encompassed gambling in its research, which looks at the lifestyles of more than 8,000 adults and 2,000 children.

That being said, the true statistics could indicate even higher numbers, as the authors noted that the nature of the survey may have contributed to fewer problem gamblers taking part.

“It is well documented that problem gamblers experience an array of adverse health outcomes,” stated the authors. “Therefore it is also possible that they are less likely to take part in a survey aimed at understanding health and health behaviour.”