The figures come from GambleAware’s latest annual survey on harms among gamblers and family members. The report examined gambling-related issues including whether gamblers were exposed to gambling in childhood and at what age.
The YouGov survey was conducted using a nationally representative selection of 18,000 adults. It found 64% of adults who experience significant harm from gambling knew someone who gambled when they were a child.
In comparison, of adults who do not gamble, 25% said that they knew someone who gambled at a younger age.
The report said relapse rates among problem gamblers are highest, at 87%, with gamblers who already experience significant harms.
It also found 33% of adults experiencing significant gambling harms have not accessed treatment services, with many saying stigma as the reason why.
GambleAware has in the past called for the need to mitigate these stigmas. In March, the charity awarded a new £350,000 research grant to a group of organisations investigating the topic.
Early exposure to gambling
The report asked respondents what age they were when first exposed to gambling. Some 6% said they were exposed to gambling before the age of five, with a further 28% saying they were 6-11.
In addition, the report found that 22% of people reported having first gambled before they were 18. Some 16% said that they placed their first bet between the ages of 12-17.
GambleAware said written responses found many people considered this introduction to the activity as a “turning point”. Others said it was a hobby inherited from family that led eventually to harmful gambling.
GambleAware chief executive Zoë Osmond said the organisation was “concerned about the normalisation of gambling across society”.
“It is also important to end the stigma associated with gambling, which is acting as a key barrier to those wanting advice and support. We encourage people to come forward and open up the conversation about gambling to put an end to stigma and ensure people get the help they need.”
GambleAware backs statutory levy
Last month, GambleAware – alongside NHS England – announced its support for the statutory levy, a mandatory tax on operator revenue to pay for research, education and treatment programmes.
The levy, set to replace the current voluntary contributions supplied by the gambling industry, is one of the proposals of the gambling white paper. The white paper is a Whitehall document released by the government in April, outlining planned reforms of UK gambling laws.
This week, the NHS announced the doubling of the number of gambling addiction clinics in the UK. This, it said, came in response to mounting referrals.