The UK Gambling Commission has released a comprehensive report entitled Young People and Gambling in which it analyzed growing gaming addiction among youngsters. Underage gambling, the report outlined, had risen by 2% since 2017.

UKGC and Underage Gambling

The latest UK Gambling Commission report targeted a particularly vulnerable group, adolescent aged 11-16. The report stated simple, asking how many of the targeted group members had spent money on various gambling products. Around 14% confirmed that they had participated in a form of gambling in the week before they were interviewed.

On average, everyone spent estimated £16 on different activities , such as bingos and video slots, even though they are completely illegal for anyone below the age of 18, which only highlights another problem – the arbitrary approach by operators when it comes to patrons not yet of the legal age.

While 14% had placed bets, an even larger segment, around 39% have gambled in some form, not necessarily having to do with the aforementioned. Most commonly, children placed bets between themselves or played card games, staking money.

A lot of children put money on the so-called loot boxes, which had been banned in Belgium and the Netherlands. However, the mentioning of loot boxes in the report was not a suggestion that these digital containers had led to increased gambling among youths.

Quite to the contrary. Speaking to the reporters, UKGC representatives have confirmed that many of the reports stipulating just that were wrong.

Meanwhile, while conducting their survey, the UKGC has been able to identify the number of problem gamblers as 1.1% of the adolescent gamblers, with additional 2.2% at significant risk of tipping into the reckless side of the activity.

Boosting Security Across the Board

While it’s true that some venues may be dodgy, though they constitute a very small percentage of all available gaming facilities, the UKGC estimates that most adolescent stay away from gaming venues in the first place, gambling between themselves instead.

Our latest research shows that the most common forms of gambling by children do not happen in gambling premises. – UKGC Executive Director Tim Miller

According to Mr. Miller, the commission cannot really step into the private lives of children and bar them from placing wagers between friends as this would be impossible to begin with, and absolutely intrusive.

He still pointed that some pubs, for example, allow children to play at the slot machines and deliberately turn a blind eye. The report by the UKGC revealed that only 10% of all pubs seek to actively chase away any underage gambler form the premises.

Meanwhile, there is a lot that parents themselves can be doing, Mr. Miller estimates. The survey revealed that only 20% of all parents strictly prohibited their children whereas the majority did not seek to advise and actively stop their children from gambling.

In those parents defense, gambling is not an issue that is uppermost on a parent’s mind, as they hardly expect it to be an issue. One active way to seek and curb underage gambling could be if the UKGC seeks help from the parents rather than try to police the activity on its own.