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UKGC Explores Gambling Journeys of Young People

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has released research into the gambling journeys and behaviours of young people. The aim was to gain a better understanding of the gambling experiences of children and young adults.

The researchers found that it is very common for children to engage in gambling-related activities, but their participation is mainly passive. In other words, children are around other people’s gambling, but they are not actively faking their age in order to gamble. For instance, they may see their parents’ lottery numbers. Many felt that in their childhood, they saw gambling as a fun treat, but they did not feel they were actively encouraged to gamble.

This kind of early exposure to gambling can lead to an increased interest in gambling in later life. However, it does not necessarily lead to problem gambling. In fact, most people who are exposed to gambling in their infanthood do not go on to experience problems. Rather, it is the positive and negative extremes that may cause problematic gambling behaviour. For instance, seeing someone hit a big win or having a parent who is very pro or anti-gambling.

It was also found that most 16-25-year-olds tend to gamble with friends, whereas problem gambling in adults mostly takes place alone. Social gambling experiences may result in peer pressure and lead to distorted ideas of what is normal. However, it is not directly linked to problem gambling later in life.

According to the UKGC’s research, advertising is not the main reason why people start gambling; rather, it is more of a ‘nudge’. However, more targeted advertising, such as social media or email, is more influential. They also found that the riskiest age for young people is 20-21 when they have freshly moved out of home and started earning independently.

Ultimately, the research found that gambling behaviour changes over time according to ongoing accounting of personal and peer experience. Those who experience wins will probably continue gambling, while experiencing losses tends to reduce play, and gambling tends to decrease in the late twenties as people take on greater responsibilities.

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