New UKGC report shows decrease in problem gambling among young people

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has released its 2023 Young People and Gambling Report – an annual study that helps understand children’s and young people’s exposure to, and involvement in, all types of gambling. Results indicate an overall decrease in gambling among youngsters.

The research was conducted in schools, with pupils completing online self-completion surveys in class. The study collected data from a sample of 3,453 11 to 16-year-olds as in previous years and, for the first time 17 year olds, attending academies, maintained and independent schools in England, Scotland, and Wales.

These are the key findings:

  • 26% of respondents spent their own money on some form of gambling in the last 12 months, compared with 31% in 2022
  • excluding arcade gaming machines, which young people can play legally, 4% of respondents spent their own money on regulated gambling (age-restricted products), compared with 5% in 2022
  • 0.7% of respondents were identified as problem gamblers by the youth-adapted DSM-IV-MR-J screen compared with 0.9% in 2022
  • 1.5% of respondents were identified as at-risk gamblers compared with 2.4% in 2022.
  • 55% had seen gambling adverts offline, compared to 66% in 2022, and 53% had seen adverts online, compared to 63% in 2022.

The Commission requires gambling operators to have strong protections in place to prevent children from accessing products illegally. This means the most common types of gambling activity that young people spent their own money on were legal or did not feature age-restricted products:

  • playing arcade gaming machines such as penny pusher or claw grab machines (19%)
  • placing a bet for money between friends or family (11%)
  • playing cards with friends or family for money (5%)

The Commission notes that protecting children and young people from harm remains its priority and that it is working hard to implement relevant proposals by the Government in its Gambling Act Review White Paper. 

This includes examining strengthening age verification in premises by considering responses to proposals to:

  • Remove the current exemption from carrying out age verification test purchasing for the smallest gambling premises
  • Changing the good practice code to say that licensees should have procedures that require their staff to check the age of any customer who appears to be under 25 years of age, rather than under 21 years of age

As part of the White Paper, the Commission is also examining staff supervision in some premises. The Commission says that it will explore through consultation the evidence around premises where there is not normally direct staff supervision (such as Adult Gaming Centres in service stations) and consider whether existing requirements effectively prevent underage gambling.