Bishop of St Albans asks Government about gambling by students and young people

On 20th March 2019 the Bishop of St Albans Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers to three questions on gambling, students and young people:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans:

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(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the National Union of Students’ gambling survey, published on 25 February, that (1) three in five students have gambled in some way over the past 12 months, (2) almost one in ten have used all or some of their student loan to gamble, and (3) four per cent of respondents owed over £20,000 as a result of gambling.

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the National Union of Students’ gambling survey, published on 25 February, that 29 per cent of respondents were under the age of 16 when they had first gambled.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: All operators providing gambling facilities to customers in Great Britain must be licensed by the Gambling Commission and comply with licence conditions. These include requirements to prevent underage gambling, offer tools to help consumers manage their gambling and offer the facility to self-exclude.

The publication Gambling Behaviour in Great Britain 2016, which is based on the Health Surveys and reports participation and problem gambling rates, indicated that that rates of low risk gambling were highest among those aged 16 to 24 (5.8%), and we support measures to offer additional protections to this group. NUS has recently announced Gamban, software blocking gambling websites and apps, will be made available for free to students.

The Commission welcomed the work done by the National Union of Students (NUS) to explore gambling behaviour among those at university students, but noted that caution must be taken to use these results in context, as the research did not seek to be representative of the population, and used methodology which may slightly over-estimate the role of gambling in students’ lives.

The Gambling Commission’s Young People Survey 2018 looked at gambling behaviour by 11-16 year olds. The most popular activities were those in which children could take part legally, for example private bets with friends. All operators must have effective policies and procedures designed to prevent underage gambling, and the Commission has a range of powers to act in the case of failures. The survey found that in some instances parents and guardians were facilitating gambling, for example, buying lottery tickets or scratchcards on behalf of a child under 16.


The Lord Bishop of St Albans:

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Gambling Commission’s Gambling participation in 2018: behaviour, awareness and attitudes survey findings that (1) there has been a three per cent decline in the proportion of respondents who think that gambling is fair and can be trusted, compared to 2017, and (2) 71 per cent of respondents think that gambling is dangerous for family life.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: Millions of people enjoy gambling responsibly, but this must be balanced against the need to protect vulnerable people from gambling-related harm. We recognise there are risks associated with gambling, which is why there is a strong regulatory framework designed to prevent harm, as well as provisions to support those who do experience harm.

Regulation of gambling in Great Britain is governed by the licensing objectives in the Gambling Act 2005, which include keeping gambling fair and open and protecting children and vulnerable people. All gambling companies providing facilities to customers in Great Britain must be licensed by the Gambling Commission and comply with its licence conditions and codes of practice. The Gambling Commission monitors operators to ensure that they comply with their licence conditions and can take regulatory action where there is evidence of a breach.

The government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures looked at protections on gaming machines, online gambling and gambling advertising and set out a comprehensive package of measures to further strengthen these.