UKGC: arcade games cause engagement concern among young gamblers

Claw machines and penny pushers participation in young players are highlighted by the UK Gambling Commission as it publishes its ‘Young People and Gambling Report’.

Claw machines and penny pushers participation in young players are highlighted by the UK Gambling Commission after publishing the latest ‘Young People and Gambling Report’.

Returning after a two-year hiatus as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the survey research, the report’s headline results revealed that 31 per cent of 11 to 16-year-olds had spent their own money on any gambling activity in the past 12-months.

This statistic represents a six per cent drop from the UKGC’s 2020 report, which was the year it was last published.

Observing that three-in-ten in the 11 to 16 age group spent their own money on gambling in the past 12-months, the survey noted arcade games such as penny pushers and claw grabs as the most popular activity, registering 22 per cent engagement with the survey’s active gambling participants.

Arcade games were followed by ‘a bet with friends or family’ registering 15 per cent involvement, as overall 23 per cent of young people were spending their own money on regulated forms of gambling.

Since its inception in 2011, the UKGC has surveyed 11 to 16-year-olds’ involvement in gambling as a “key assessment” of market safeguards which aim to protect children from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

The study collected data from a sample of 2,559 11 to 16-year-olds attending academies and maintained schools in England, Scotland, and Wales between March 12 and July 1, 2022.

One of the headline figures from the survey noted that in 2022, engagement with National Lottery products had witnessed drops of one per cent for scratch cards and instant win games. This was recorded at seven per cent two years prior.

Moving higher up to the older age groups, 14 to 16-years-old, the survey noted that this category was more likely to have spent money on unregulated forms of gambling.

Applying the DSM-IV-MR-J Problem Gambling Screen, designed to report on youth-specific gambling mental disorders, the survey identified 0.9 per cent of 11 to 16-year-olds as problem gamblers.

Across all participants, the survey classified 2.4 per cent as at-risk gamblers and 27.3 per cent as non-problem gamblers.

Within the gambling harms segment, boys were found to be more likely to be classified as at-risk gambling – 3.2 per cent compared to girls at 1.8 per cent. However, the 2022 report found no gender variations in the category defined as problem gamblers.

The research also revealed that 60 per cent of participants reported a direct or indirect experience with gambling over the last 12-months. It also stated that 36 per cent of young people who had seen family members gamble were more than likely to spend their own money on gambling compared to 16 per cent two years ago.

Concluding the report, 64 per cent of participants agreed that “gambling was dangerous” while 70 per cent of young people felt well informed about the risks of gambling, with 50 per cent stating that an adult had personally spoken to them about gambling risks.