UK Gambling Commission: Young people’s active involvement in gambling

Responsible Gambling

The UK Gambling Commission has released its 2023 Young People and Gambling Report – an annual study which helps understand children’s and young people’s exposure to, and involvement in, all types of gambling.

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.

This year: 26 percent of respondents spent their own money on some form of gambling in the last 12 months, compared with 31 percent in 2022

Excluding arcade gaming machines which young people can play legally 4 percent of respondents spent their own money on regulated gambling (age restricted products), compared with 5 percent in 2022.

0.7 percent of respondents were identified as problem gamblers by the youth adapted DSM-IV-MR-J screen compared with 0.9 percent in 2022.

1.5 percent of respondents were identified as at-risk gamblers compared with 2.4 percent in 2022.

55 percent had seen gambling adverts offline, compared to 66 percent in 2022, and 53 percent had seen adverts online, compared to 63 percent 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 percent)
  • placing a bet for money between friends or family (11 percent)
  • playing cards with friends or family for money (5 percent).

Protecting children and young people from harm remains a priority for the Commission and it is working hard to implement relevant proposals by 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 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.