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UK LEGAL COMMENT


Young people


partner Melanie Ellis examines the findings of two recent UK


Northridge Law


surveys and makes some interesting discoveries.


D


and gambling: the latest findings


uring October 2019, the Telegraph reported that “Teenagers are now spending half of their pocket money on gambling”, the Christian Institute that “Tens of thousands


of children are gambling addicts” and “Child gambling a ‘growing problem’” was the headline from the BBC. These items relate to the results of two surveys released during October: the Gambling Commission’s latest “Young People & Gambling” report and research conducted by Cardiff University. Notwithstanding the negative press, the headline takeaway from the Commission’s survey is a reduction in the number of 11-16 year olds spending their own money on gambling, from 14% gambling in the past week in 2018 to 11% in 2019. Back in 2011 this rate was up at 23%, so the reduction in underage gambling over the past 8 years is substantial and must be credited at least in part to more rigorous age verification by gambling operators and venues.


32 NOVEMBER 2019


Data on how many underage people are gambling, why and what problems they are experiencing should be of relevance to all gambling operators, regardless of how effective they think their age verification procedures are. As is demonstrated by the surveys, young people are finding ways to gamble online and in retail premises and some are experiencing harm as a result. In light of the findings, operators may want to give further consideration to factors such as the design of products (the Commission has separately asked games providers to create an code of practice for game design), the information made available to parents and raising awareness of help available.


Note of caution


Before getting into the surveys’ findings, it is worth bearing in mind the limitations of the data. In relation to the Commission’s survey, the sample size was small, with only 2,943 children completing the survey to represent a


population of over 3m 11-16 year olds in Great Britain. Cardiff University had a better participation rate, with 37,363 completing gambling related questions as part of its overall research into student health and wellbeing, but all the children involved went to school in Wales. In addition to possible inaccuracies caused


by the small sample size and distribution, it seems likely that a sizeable number of the survey respondents exaggerated their participation in gambling. Given that playing fruit or slot machines


was the most common form of unlawful gambling engaged in by the 11-16 year olds, it is worth giving a bit of thought to those figures. The Commission’s survey revealed that 4% of 11-16 year olds had used a fruit or slot machine during the past week and Cardiff found a figure of 4.6%. However, the Commission’s latest survey on gambling participation amongst adults found that only 3.8% had played on a fruit or slot machine in the past four weeks. Although the Commission discovered recently that 84% of pubs are failing to prevent underage customers from using fruit machines, it seems very unlikely that these machines are used more by those aged 16 or under than they are by adults. Perhaps not surprisingly, the prime candidates for exaggeration seem to be the 11-year-old survey respondents, with 7% telling the Commission they had played a fruit or slot machine in the past week and 2% claiming to have played casino games at a casino (which only 1.6% of adults had done in the past four weeks). These figures are very unlikely to be correct. The headline rates of 11% of 11-16 year olds gambling in the past week and 36% (Commission) / 41% (Cardiff) in the past year will still seem high to some. One additional point to bear in mind is that a number of the


zwiebackesser/Adobe Stock


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