The Gambling Commission has announced the release of its annual Young People and Gambling survey for 2023.
The report highlights a drop of 10 percentage points among 11- to 17-year-olds who had seen or heard adverts in the prior 12 months. Some 55% and 53% had seen offline and online ads respectively in the past year. This was compared to 66% and 63% in 2022.
“This represents a significant decline,” the Gambling Commission said.
The survey, which interviewed more than 3,000 young people, found a reduction across a number of sections. This came despite 17-year-olds being included in the survey for the first time.
The survey found that 26% of 11- to 17-year-olds who responded had spent their own money on any gambling activity in the 12 months prior. While more than a quarter, this was five percentage points lower than the 31% observed in 2022.
Kids primarily choose legal forms of gambling
The most common types of gambling activity that young people spent their own money on was legal or did not feature age-restricted products. These included playing arcade gaming machines such as penny pusher or claw grab machines, which accounted for 19%. Placing a bet with friends or family and playing cards were the next biggest types.
Excluding arcade gaming machines, which young people can play legally, 4% of respondents spent their own money on regulated gambling. This compared to 5% in 2022. Some 1.5% of respondents were identified as at-risk gamblers compared with 2.4% in 2022.
Among those young people who spent their own money gambling in the last 12 months, 80% did so because they regard it as a fun thing to do. Less than one in five agreed that gambling makes them feel happy.
The Gambling Commission said: “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.”
Gambling Act Review white paper could have a further impact
The Gambling Act Review white paper includes proposals to remove the current exemption of age verification for the smallest gambling premises. Premises may also be forced to check the age of customers who appear to be under 25, rather than under 21.
The Commission added: “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.”
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. Fieldwork took place between February and July 2023.
Meanwhile, Tim Miller, executive director of research and policy at the GB Gambling Commission, has outlined plans for the next set of Gambling Act Review white paper consultations. This round of consultations will include bonuses and free bets – more specifically, ensuring that they are socially responsible.