2,000 students polled 

YGAM and GamStop study finds financial strain, persistent gambling habits among UK university students

Reading time 2:23 min

A recent survey conducted by the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) and Gamstop sheds light on the financial challenges faced by university students in the UK due to gambling habits. The Annual Student Gambling Survey, in its third year, reveals gambling trends in this vulnerable group and finds that close to half of UK students who gamble spend more than they can afford.

The survey, commissioned jointly by YGAM and Gamstop and conducted by Censuswide, polled 2,000 students across the UK. Findings indicate that while a majority of students (60%) engaged in gambling activities over the past year, there has been a decrease from the previous year's participation rate of 71%. 

However, the impact of gambling on student life remains significant, with 46% of student gamblers reporting adverse effects on their university experience, including missed deadlines and social activities.

Financial strain is a prominent issue among student gamblers, with many admitting to spending beyond their means. On average, student gamblers lose £35.25 ($44.94) per week, amounting to £1,833 ($2,336) annually

Alarmingly, 15% of student gamblers report losses exceeding £50 ($63.74) per week. To finance their gambling habits, students are resorting to various sources, including savings (32%), student loans (23%), parental support (10%), and overdrafts (8%).

While the survey reveals consistent rates of at-risk gambling behavior, with 28% of student gamblers classified as being at 'moderate risk', there has been a slight decrease in the percentage of students classified as 'problem gamblers', from 24% last year to 21% this year.

Online sports betting emerges as the most common gambling activity among male students, while the National Lottery dominates among female students. Friends remain the biggest influence on student gambling (34%), followed closely by sports events (26%) and social media (25%).

In response to these findings, organizations like YGAM and Gamstop have ramped up efforts to raise awareness of gambling harms among students and provide support on university campuses. Despite the challenges, there is a growing demand for educational programs and resources aimed at implementing harm prevention measures effectively.

Meanwhile, concerns about the broader implications of gambling addiction persist. Stuart Andrew MP, Gambling Minister, emphasized the vulnerability of young adults to gambling-related harms and underscored the government's commitment to implementing measures to protect them.

Stuart Andrew MP, Gambling Minister said: “Whilst millions of people gamble safely and without harm, we know that young adults can be more vulnerable to gambling-related harms, which is why we recently introduced online slot limits specifically for 18-24-year-olds."

Alongside this, we are introducing a host of measures this year that will better protect young people from gambling harms, including financial risk checks, tighter controls on advertising, and marketing and a statutory levy on gambling operators.”

Dr. Jane Rigbye, CEO of YGAM, stresses the need for comprehensive educational programs to address the multifaceted harms associated with gambling, particularly among university students.

“Since last year’s report, students have faced increased financial strain amid the ongoing cost of living crisis. Despite a notable decrease in gambling participation rates among students over the past three years, problem gambling prevalence rates remain stable, significantly higher than those in the general population. We know the multifaceted harms associated with gambling extend beyond financial implications and any level of harm is unacceptable.”

Similarly, Fiona Palmer, CEO of Gamstop, highlighted the importance of early intervention and risk awareness in mitigating gambling-related harm among young adults.

We have seen a significant spike in the number of young people registering for self-exclusion, with 16- to 24-year-olds making up around one in four of Gamstop registrants. This shows the importance of educating them about risk before they develop a problem.”

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