Gambling harm research and education body The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) has published its UKGC commissioned study – ‘Gambling, children and young people: A case for action’.
The study seeks to inform the UKGC and further government stakeholders on the UK’s ‘young persons’ (under the age 18) gambling trends, exposure and personal safety.
Furthermore, the RGSB recommends its appropriate actions to limit underage people gambling and to decrease the exposure of gambling/betting content on younger audiences.
The study has been developed with the ‘overarching principles’ that children have a right to be safe and that commercial gambling should be ‘regarded primarily as an activity for adults’.
For industry stakeholders, RGSB outlines that comprehensive ID verifications’ have to be at the forefront of betting’s day-to-day operations for all verticals. With the body further recommending actions on advertising/marketing of services and creating content which could appeal to younger audiences.
Within the UK commercial gambling is legal for those aged 18 and over. However, the two exceptions are:
• National Lottery Products – draw tickets, scratch cards and instant online wins.
• Category D gaming machines –fruit machines with small limited jackpots, arcade cranes or bingo machines.
• Private gambling amongst friends and family has no restrictions at any age.
Updating stakeholders on ‘UK participation’, for 2017, the RGSB details that ‘12 % of 11 to 15 year-olds had gambled in the last week, a decline from 23 % recorded in 2011.’
For the RGSB the decrease is consistent with young people’s consumption of other vice products such as alcohol and tobacco which have declined during the period.
However, on tackling problem gambling amongst UK youngsters, the RGSB details ‘that around 0.9 per cent of children aged 11 to 15 are problem gamblers’, equating to around 31,000 UK children.
The study details that the figure has remained constant, but that the government must implement further restrictions as the RGSB believes that at present a further 45,000 children (11-15) are ‘at-risk’ of falling into problem gambling.
To progress with combatting underage gambling and enhance risk preventions, the RGSB’s study has put forward 30 recommendations for the UKGC, government and industry stakeholders. The recommendations include:
• A comprehensive review of allowing UK 16-year olds to purchase National Lottery products
• Review of play and access to UK Category D gaming machines
• Better collection of player data gathered on Under 18 gambling products/services
• Industry games developers to apply ‘age-test rates’ in products and services
• Enhancing operators’ ID verification capabilities and request procedures
• Creating a wider pool of guardians on ‘underage problem gambling’ – app stores, search engines, schools. etc..
• UKGC & ASA should jointly review the impact of ‘high visibility ’betting sports sponsorship on UK youngsters.
• In-app gambling messages should be pushed to players that have passed comprehensive ID verification.
Issuing an industry update backing the RGSB’s study – Tim Miller, an Executive Director at the Gambling Commission, said:
“We have a strong commitment to protecting children and young people from the harm gambling can pose – it’s at the heart of how we regulate. We asked our expert advisers, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board to consider this critical theme. The advice helps us to refocus and reinforce what we are doing already, and what we need to do next. For example, this year we will be carrying out targeted compliance and enforcement activity to identify and tackle any weaknesses in the age verification processes.
“Safeguarding children in a digital age is complex, and what both RGSB and our research has highlighted is that it takes a multi-faceted approach by us, government, educators, gambling firms and parents. It will take firm ongoing commitments from the Commission as gambling regulator, but also from all of those with a part to play.”
In its conclusion the RGSB states that as a body tackling gambling-related harm, it would like to hear feedback on its study, finding and recommendations from all related UK gambling stakeholders.