Gambling operators have been criticised recently for their adverts and promotions which are making gambling seem “normal” in the eyes of young people. The faux moral outrage from the media and politicians is to be expected but the findings from the UK Gambling Commission’s survey on young people and gambling do not unequivocally justify the attack on the gambling sector.


Survey finding: 7% of 11-16 year olds have used a parent’s account to gamble online. Within this group, 88% of those surveyed have done so on occasion with the permission of their parents.
The majority of this activity related to the national lottery, which is legal for 16-years olds but not those under 16 years. Nevertheless, for all the criticism of gambling operators on tackling underage and problem gambling, there is a point at which parental responsibility comes into play.

If parents are giving permission for their underage children to gamble online with the parent’s account (or leaving their accounts unsecure, so that their children can use them without permission), then no amount of age verification procedures is going to be effective. But it is easier for the regulator to blame the licence holders.

Survey finding: 80% of young people surveyed have seen a gambling advert on TV.
The proliferation of gambling adverts on television is accused of causing young people to see gambling as a “normal” activity.

But the survey concludes that whilst 80% of young people have seen a gambling advert on TV, the impact of seeing gambling advertisements is limited: “based on the claims of respondents, there was little evidence of a direct influence on gambling activity”.

Only 1% of respondents said that after seeing adverts for gambling “it prompted me to start gambling/increase the amount I gamble”.

Furthermore, just 5% of those who had gambled said the reason for gambling for the first time was because “I’d seen adverts for it”, the third least popular response of those given.

Survey finding: 55% of young people surveyed were not aware of betting with in-game items. Only 11% of those surveyed had bet with in-game items.
A recent angle of attack has focused on video games and the topics of skin betting and loot boxes. The survey found it might not be the crisis portrayed in the media. The majority of young people were not even aware of betting with in-game items.

Survey finding: 62% of young people agree “gambling is dangerous”.
“Dangerous” is a suitably vague term which for young people could cover everything from poisonous snakes, talking to strangers, to playing on railway tracks.

The Gambling Commission and the anti-gambling brigade should be heartened that their scare campaign is working because 62% of young people agree that gambling is dangerous.

But it is a finding that should give gambling operators cause for concern, if these young people continue to hold this ill-informed opinion into adulthood.