The UK Gambling Commission‘s annual Young People and Gambling report has been published, and has found that National Lottery participation, casual betting among friends and pub machines are the channels of choice for the one in seven 11-16 year olds that have gambled recently.

The key finding was that 14 per cent of 11-16 year olds in the UK – more than 50,000 – had spent their own money on gambling in the week prior to being canvassed, at an average of £16 spent. This is up from the 12 per cent recorded last year but lower than in years prior to 2017.

For context, this compares with 13 per cent in the same age range who had consumed alcohol in the preceding seven days, while four per cent admitted to smoking and two per cent to taking illicit drugs,

Those 11-16 year olds that gambled did so mostly with their friends, placing private bets for money (six per cent) while four per cent bought National Lottery scratchcards and three per cent played fruit/slot machines.

Six per cent played online using a parent or guardian’s account. However, this group’s online activities were again dominated by the National Lottery, with just two per cent of those youngsters surveyed claiming to have played at “other gambling websites” with their parents’ permission.

One per cent of 11-16 year olds said they had played on non-National Lottery gambling websites without their parents’ permission.

Despite the bounce from 2017’s low rate, there is encouragement regarding attitudes to gambling with 59 per cent of respondents agreeing that gambling is dangerous, while 49 per cent said that someone had spoken to them about the problems that can arise from gambling.

Still, 1.7 per cent of 11-16 year olds are categorised as problem gamblers.

In a press release, Tim Miller, executive director at the Gambling Commission, said: “Protecting children from the harms that can come from gambling remains one of our highest priorities. In the areas we have regulatory control, we continue to strengthen the protections in place to prevent underage gambling, such as our recent proposals for enhanced age verifications checks for online gambling.”

“But regulation alone cannot address all of the risks that young people may face from gambling. Our latest research shows that the most common forms of gambling by children do not happen in gambling premises.

“Some of these are legal, such as bets between friends; some of these are unlawful, such as gambling on machines in pubs. But all of them present risks to young people as there is no form of gambling that is risk-free. It is therefore vital that all those with a part to play in protecting children and young people – parents, businesses and regulators – work together.”

Just week, the Gambling Commission confirmed it had written to pubs regarding the more effective control of young people entering the premises to play on gambling machines.

Read the full 2018 Young people and Gambling report here