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UK Gambling Commission Study Finds Youth Gambling is Common

Published: March 13, 2023

Sports betting has brought countless changes to the problem gambling landscape. And with Problem Gambling Awareness Month taking place this month, one area of change has been drawing particular attention recently from responsible gambling advocates and prevention professionals: the impact that sports betting will have on youth. 

Because their brains are still developing, children and teenagers can be particularly susceptible to gambling-related messages like sports betting advertisements and can often engage in gambling, betting, or similar behaviors without realizing the consequences. As the Change the Game Ohio campaign has highlighted, children who are introduced to gambling before age 18 are two times more likely to develop a problem with gambling later in life. 

And now, a new study by the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission and the market research firm Ipsos has found that gambling behaviors are quite common among young people. The 2022 survey of more than 2,500 students in the UK  — where various forms of sports betting have been legal for adults for many years — found that 31 percent of 11 to 16-year-olds had spent their own money on gambling activities in the last 12 months. 

In addition to being asked general questions about their gambling, the students were given a diagnostic level problem gambling screening test, which identified 0.9 percent of 11 to 16-year-olds as struggling with problem gambling and 2.4 percent as being at risk for problem gambling. Gambling was also present in many households, with 28 percent of young people seeing family members or people they live with gamble and 7 percent saying that it had resulted in arguments or tension at home.

The most common types of gambling activities that youth participated in were legal, like betting with family members or playing claw games at the arcade. Many of the students surveyed said they also spent their own money on those activities, with 23 percent saying they had used their own funds. 

The survey is usually conducted annually but had been put on hold for 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and school closings in the UK. It was restarted in 2022 and was conducted using a revamped questionnaire, including questions that were changed to help students understand them better. 

Here in Ohio, the impact of recent sports gambling legalization is still being evaluated. But ensuring that youth gambling prevention messages reach the public remains essential, especially during Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Now is the time to start a conversation about gambling and online gaming with the young people in your life. 

Change the Game Ohio is here to help. To learn more about the dangers of youth gambling and access discussion guides for caretakers, youth, and educators, visit

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