The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has reported that childhood exposure to gambling products will impact the attitudes and behavioural outcomes of UK consumers with regards to their future gambling engagements.
Part of quantitative and qualitative research undertaken by agency 2CV, the UKGC survey examined the views and engagements of the demographic of young people aged between 16-to-30.
2CV’s research was undertaken to reflect young people’s ‘own words and own voice’ with regards to gambling engagements experienced at a formative age, according to the Commission.
The research was split into two phases, with 2CV creating a 10-day focus group examining the behaviours of 30 participants aged 16-to-30 who had all gambled in the past 12-months.
The focus group had an even split of male and female participants, and a mix of different ages, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and problem gambling status according to the full PGSI.
An online survey followed the second phase, conducted on 962 individuals aged between 16-to-25, who were asked questions on their current and past gambling experiences.
Key findings revealed that childhood engagements with gambling were aligned with life events and experiences such as family holidays, first jobs and financial independence.
Respondents stated that witnessing gambling activities during childhood were common, but that their participation was not proactive. However, early exposure to positive and negative experiences (witnessing big wins, losses, hardships) led to an ‘increased interest in gambling’.
Despite maintaining some influence, early-age exposure to gambling could not be defined as a definitive factor in respondents gambling later in life.
Feedback from 16-to-25 respondents found that friends and family played a greater role in shaping gambling behaviour at a formative age and how an individual perceives negatives or positives of gambling.
Of significance, the research found that young people were most vulnerable to gambling harms once they achieved independence from their families, moving away from home.
“By age 20-21, young people are most at risk of falling into problem gambling as they adjust to their new freedoms. It’s also around this age that budgeting and taking steps to gamble safely (e.g. setting limits) are less likely to feel like a priority” – the report stated.
Evaluating wider social influences, the report stated that gambling advertising was viewed as ‘trigger-or-nudge’ to gamble, rather than as a determining experience felt by respondents.
Providing guidance, the research outlined that young people’s gambling behaviour should be monitored during their transition towards adulthood – in which gamblers can develop risker habits and anti-social behaviours (lone gambling, borrowing to gamble,).
Protecting young-people from negative gambling outcomes, research stated that policy should be focused on education of children, parents and learning environments.
Meanwhile, protection stakeholders should take a ‘more holistic approach’ to tackling problem gambling within friendship groups rather than individuals – which are determined to have “a longer-lasting benefit – highlighting the influence of friends on play”.
Tim Miller, Executive Director of the Gambling Commission, said: “Protecting consumers is at the heart of everything we do, and it is important we understand the ways in which children and young people gain exposure to gambling, the products they are playing, and what factors influence their relationship with gambling.
“This latest research forms an important part of our ongoing and wider research programme into gambling behaviours and latest trends across Great Britain. Action to protect consumers should be led by evidence and today’s research publication provides important insights specifically into the ways that children and young people can be protected from gambling harms.”