Young people and gambling-related harm: Position paper

Abstract

The Gambling Act 2005 sets a statutory licensing objective that children should be protected from being harmed by gambling. This paper from the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board addresses gambling and young people. Problem gambling rates are higher among young gamblers than among adult gamblers. Young people have a high rate of ‘natural recovery’ from gambling problems. But early-age and risky gambling may increase the likelihood of problem gambling in adulthood. One study shows that almost 17% of men and 5% of women aged 16 to 24 years were at risk from their gambling behaviour in the last twelve months. Too little is known about young gamblers and the risk of harm. Their gambling is entwined with other vulnerabilities and risky behaviours. There is little treatment available and its effectiveness needs assessing. Despite age restrictions and existing controls, gambling can be accessible to children. New gambling opportunities (and gambling promotion) are increasingly available, for example via social media. More needs to be done to implement underage regulatory measures effectively. Young people’s exposure to gambling marketing and advertising should be further controlled. Young people need information about gambling and how to avoid gambling harm. Young people with gambling-related problems need appropriate advice, assistance and possibly treatment. Some will need advice and help for their own or family members’ gambling-related problems. Parents’ gambling – and their attitudes towards it – has an impact on their children’s behaviour and may need to be addressed. Reducing gambling-related harm to young people requires a joined-up approach involving non-gambling-related agencies, especially those working with at-risk youth. School-based interventions need development. Can early warning signs be spotted? How early should intervention take place? We can learn from other fields (for example, alcohol), and from young people themselves.

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