Student gamblers betting nearly £2000 a year

By Dave Sawyer, Last updated Mar 11, 2024

Nearly one in two university students who gamble say they are staking more than they can afford, the latest Annual Student Gambling Survey has revealed.

The survey of 2,000 students across the UK found that student gamblers are losing £35.25 a week on average. To fund their gambling, 32% are dipping into their savings, 23% are using their student loan, 10% are using money from their parents and, concerningly, 8% are using their overdraft.

The findings have been released after the government announced that 18–24-year-olds will be limited to a maximum £2 per spin for online slots. Gambling operators will perform “passive“ checks on players with a net loss above £125 each month or £500 per year.

The survey also incorporated the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) to measure at-risk gambling behaviour. It revealed 28% of students who gamble is at ‘moderate risk’, and 21% in the ‘problem gambling’ category.

The independent research, in its third year, was jointly commissioned by GAMSTOP, the national online self-exclusion scheme, and Ygam, a leading education charity that delivers harm prevention programmes aimed at safeguarding children and young people against gaming and gambling harms.

Six out of ten students say they have gambled in the last 12 months and 48% of that group admit they have staked more than they can afford in that period. Nearly half of those who gamble say they do it to make money (46%) and one in four enjoy the risk (24%).

Friends remain the biggest influence on student gambling (34%), followed closely by sports events (26%) and social media (25%). This demonstrates the need to educate young people on safer gambling habits. Four out of ten have been criticised by other people for their gambling or have been told they are gambling too much and more than half admit feeling guilty about their gambling.

Gambling also has wider implications, with 46% saying it has affected their university experience, including trouble paying for food, attempting to access hardship loans and missing social activities and work deadlines. 1 in 16 student gamblers reported that they have deferred or considered dropping out of university due to their gambling.

Over the past 12 months GAMSTOP and Ygam have visited more than 30 university campuses across the UK to raise awareness of gambling harms among students and the support that is available. Ygam has also delivered training to university and student union staff. Reassuringly, 60% of students say they feel comfortable accessing university gambling support – an increase on last year.

The survey has been published immediately after National Student Money Week 2024, which was themed ‘Less Risk, More Reward – maintaining your financial wellbeing at university” and included advice on risky behaviours such as gambling.

This year’s research also investigated student attitudes to spending money on microtransactions in video games. Critics argue that monetised features. such as loot boxes, share clear similarities with traditional forms of gambling. While 70% of student gamers have paid real money for these random chance items in games, only 51% recognise this as gambling.

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.”

Fiona Palmer, CEO of GAMSTOP, said: “This is the third year that we have run research and insights into the student gambling landscape, which underpins our Gambling Support University Tour, educating students about gambling risk and signposting them to support.”

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

Dr Jane Rigbye, Chief Executive Office at Ygam, said: “Since last year’s report, students have faced increased financial strain amidst 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.”

“With gambling seemingly entrenched in university culture and participated in by the majority of students, the importance of our educational programmes with students and universities cannot be overstated.”

“There is a growing demand for our training and resources from universities that recognise the necessity of implementing harm prevention measures. We encourage all those working in university settings to work to implement harm prevention strategies on campus, and we are ready to support them to do this effectively.”

Dave Sawyer

Dave has been involved in the Online Gambling industry for 20 odd years now. With experience working for an operator based in Gibraltar, where he headed up the IT team at Ladbrokes, to running his own iGaming affiliate websites until 2019.

Dave now writes for Casinomeister and sister site Casino Gazette. You may also see him on the forum from time to time, where he goes by the handle Webzcas.

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