UK Gambling Commission claims some students have £10,000 in gambling debt

Last week, Ben Haden, Programme Director for Insight at the UK Gambling Commission, made the shocking revelation that some students in the UK have up to £10,000 gambling debt.

Students celebrating graduation

The UK Gambling Commission is concerned about the gambling habits of undergraduate students. © Pexels

Haden told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that his organisation had spoken to many students with such debts and that they are especially concerned about the effect gambling could have on undergraduate students.

The Gambling Commission worked in collaboration with YouthSight, a youth research agency and access panel, to survey students about their gambling habits. The results showed that three out of five students have made a bet or gambled in the last four weeks.

Among the tactics recommended to alleviate the issue were calls from the Commission to increase the advice and guidance that students receive surrounding betting. This should lead to less addictive behaviours exhibited. The Commission wants universities to do more by providing a much higher level of information surrounding the dangers of problem gambling.

Are gambling firms targeting students?

Casinos and bookmakers in student cities have long offered student specials, such as a student poker night with free drinks or enhanced odds or special bets for undergraduate students. Such marketing tactics are not currently illegal, especially in regard to university students, who are over the legal gambling age of 18. However, universities may start looking to do more to limit the impact gambling firms are having on students, under pressure from both the UK watchdog and action groups. A spokesman for the National Union of Students said:

We need to be better at clamping down on this. We need to have a conversation about what gambling can lead to for students.Robbie Young, National Union of Students Spokesman

However, the way in which casinos and online bookmakers target younger demographics is coming under ever-increasing scrutiny. Last week, the UK Labour party called for a ban on betting firms sponsoring football teams’s shirts, largely for the reason that it exposes a young or even underage audience to gambling. With a huge global audience of students and younger people, the prevalence of marketing campaigns for betting firms is a hot topic among politicians and the UK’s industry watchdog and there could soon be legislative changes in the area.

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