Are UK students at risk of a gambling problem?

A recent report from the UK Gambling Commission suggests that a growing number of students are risking far beyond what they can afford. Students are no longer just throwing their spare change into the slot machines at the end of a drunk night out. Instead, the report says for a small proportion of students, online gambling has become a major problem, with some accruing massive debts or even spending a whole term’s maintenance loan within a few hours.

Thousands of people have have a flutter on the horses or bet on their favourite football team over the internet every week with no problems. However, for the minority that do find themselves struggling, the problems can become severe, and the Commission is calling on schools and universities to provide better information about the subject of problem gambling.

The Gambling Commission’s Executive Director, Tim Miller, said:

“Two in three students gamble according to our new figures. Whilst many may do so without experiencing harm, for some, gambling can lead to debt, time away from lectures and potentially lead to a longer term problem with gambling. We want to encourage universities to provide the same level of information and support about the risks from gambling as they do for drugs, alcohol and safe sex.”

The main thrust of the education campaign is to make sure young people think carefully about their motivations for gambling – it should be seen as a fun game or experience and not an answer to improving their personal finances.

There has been a rise in a gambling technique called “matched betting” in recent years, which gives them the opportunity to try the top online casino games with little risk by making use of the generous free offers each gambling firm uses to attract new users. However, the low risk of this technique is only true whilst the free betting offers last – once a user has used up that free bet, the risks become very real.

To help young people make sure they understand the risks involved with gambling, alongside the report the Commission published a list of “10 ways to keep yourself safe when gambling

10 ways to keep yourself safe when gambling

  1. Ask yourself why you are gambling
  2. Monitor how often you’re gambling online
  3. Keep track of how much time you’ve spent gambling
  4. Limit how much you can spend
  5. Give yourself a timeout
  6. Need a longer break? Self-exclude from gambling firms for a minimum of 6 months
  7. Read the terms and conditions
  8. Make sure the website you’re gambling with is licensed
  9. Check how your money is protected
  10. Feel it’s getting too much? Talk to someone

If you think you may have a problem call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133

Photograph by Jarmoluk

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