GambleAware Study Seeks to Explain How Gambling Behavior Begins

A new study commissioned by GambleAware and conducted by the University of Bristol offered a keen insight into understanding gambling behavior and how it develops in individuals from a younger age.

Children of the 90s Study Gives Insight into Gambling Behavior

The ‘Children of the 90s’ study by the University of Bristol has established that most people develop gambling habits by the time they turn 20. The study also showed that over 50% of all 17-year-olds in the United Kingdom are participating in some form of gambling.

Commissioned by GambleAware, a non-for-profit organization focused on tackling gambling harm, the study tapped into a segment of 14,000 young people. The goal of the survey is to understand the psychology behind gambling and specifically by what age gambling habits are established.

In other words, the study focused on identifying an age when gambling behavior becomes ‘internalized’ by the individual. Interestingly, younger individuals seem to be more impulsive about gambling, with 54% of all 17-year-olds having gambled at least once within the year of the survey.

The percentage of participation peaked for 20-year-olds to 68%, but it then started to decline for individuals aged 24%, slightly down to 66%. However, not all individuals were participating in casino gaming or going to sportsbooks.

According to the findings, purchasing lottery tickets, scratch cards and betting among friends were the most common forms of gambling individuals participated in.

Like Father, Like Son – Gambling in the Family

The survey found more interesting connection between gambling behavior and parental care. While a proclivity for gambling has mostly been based on environmental and social factors, family also played part.

Individuals whose parents were used to gambling were more likely to start gambling themselves. There was also a connection between heavy gambling and the use of social media. Heavy gamblers also played a lot of video games when younger.

In other words, the survey might give some grounds to classify loot boxes, digital containers with various goods that are purchased in games, as a form of gambling. The survey also established a connection between smoking, drinking and a gambling predisposition.

For example, regular gamblers were at least twice as likely to develop these habits as opposed to the non-addictive behavior.

How to Protect Vulnerable Individuals

Alan Emond from the Centre for Academic Child Health believes that not everything is lost. Emond hailed the study as an opportunity to get an insight into how gambling addiction works in the youngest.

Moving forward, addressing the issue would be a combination of multiple factors, Emond specified:

To protect these vulnerable young people from gambling harm requires a combination of education, legislation and appropriate treatment services

Emond also acknowledged that generally, young people weren’t massively converting into gambling addicts. However, estimated 7% of all young males were developing problematic behavior likely to escalate later in life.

Marc Etches from GambleAware also pitched in the conversation. He re-iterated the mission of the organization, specifically to protect people safe from any gambling-related harms. Etches also added that the growing incidence of gambling amongst the youngest.

A recent study found out that some 500,000 children in the United Kingdom were gambling. According to GambleAware’s boss, young people are increasingly exposed to technologies that make gambling-like activities very accessible.

Etches also added that one in eight individuals aged 11 – 16 were engaging with gambling ads on social media, cautioning about overcompliance on the part of regulators.  There is a silver lining. The UK Betting and Gaming Council confirmed that rigorous verification checks have now made it virtually impossible for any underage individual to place wagers.

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