Young Academic’s Staffordshire University correspondent reports on a worrying trend emerging amongst British students with regard to gambling.
The recent hikes in student fees has led to many potential students concerned about their chances of affording university, with many universities in England rising their fees up to and above £9,000. This university fee rise could potentially lead to students turning to gambling to solve their money woes and in an age where bookmakers are just mere footsteps away and phones and portal devices make betting available at your fingertips, money troubles could be seen as easily fixed through a simple bet.
But it is not just money problems that could lead to students and young people gambling. Various reasons such as living far away from home for the first time, fear of making friends, depression or even just simple boredom could lead students down a slippery slope of gambling where excessive amounts of money could potentially be lost. A recent British Gambling Prevalence Survey found that 0.9% of 16-24 year olds had a gambling problem, doesn’t sound many but surprisingly equates to 67,500 young people.
Gamblers Anonymous was founded in the UK in 1964 and ever since then there has been a real focus helping people who have issues overcoming gambling. James Mclarin, Media and Communications Co-ordinator at Gamcare expresses the company’s serious concern among students gambling.
James Mclarin explained “More awareness is needed as it is easy for students to fall into addiction with their bets eventually becoming bigger and bigger with more money being spent.
“You will find that a big issue among students is informal gambling such as poker clubs where excessive amounts of money can be lost at a time”.
The recent resurgence in online betting has also become an issue with online betting becoming a major part of mainstream sport. Sponsorships and advertisements for online gambling are a focal point of modern sport with them becoming such a part of the modern game that they have now become widely accepted. It is now not uncommon to watch a sports game where two sides have online gambling logos blazed across their shirts, something that was unheard of 5-10 years ago.
“Online gambling does not necessarily entice students because gambling has always been available to those who want to gamble, most will generally use a wide variety and frequently use different methods.”
But the area of students gambling is a bit of a black hole as there is little research into how students spend their money, gambling is something that affects all different members of society.
“Gambling now affects 73% of the UK population so logically; gambling affects 73% of the UK student population.”
There are an estimated 127,500 people aged under 24 with a gambling problem in the UK. The rate of problem gambling is over three times as high in young people as it in adults. However it has consistently been shown that young people do not seek help for gambling problems, something that Gamcare’s James Mclarin is particularly nervous of.
“Few students will have the courage to come forward but it should be encouraged as much as possible that they do. If a student believes they have a problem the first thing they should do is ring up Gamcare or to go onto the website where all the information is available”.
Gamcare strongly aim to prevent teenage problem gambling and the problems that surround the issue. A project in 2010 called ‘Beating the Odds’, recognises that in a modern age of new media it is becoming increasing hard to police online gambling among young people. With online gambling becoming more normalised and more easily accessible, the worry is over the implications this may have on the future, as it stands younger generations may see even higher rates of gambling unless education in the matter is improved.
On the other hand Nigel, 20, from Warwickshire, is a self professed gambler, claimed that he has in the past contacted gambling helpline services such as Gamcare but states that it may not always be successful to students and young people.
Nigel said “I went to gamblers anonymous for 3 weeks then I left. I didn’t find it very helpful because there are too many people in the room with different problems which meant i didn’t get to talk in detail about my own problem for very long.
“I started gambling again about 2 weeks into the meetings so they obviously weren’t working for me”
20 year old Nigel confessed to regularly visiting local bookies to gamble as well as owning both an online William Hill and Ladbrokes account, but admitted that he only opened a Ladbrokes account to receive a £50 matched deposit when depositing money into the account, clearly this was used to entice him into the online gambling service.
Nigel firmly believes that online gambling most defiantly entices more people to gamble.
“In my opinion, online gambling is a bigger problem than gambling in a shop.
“Gamblers have everything online that they would be able to bet on in the shop, but they also have extras as well such as in play betting on many sports and card games like poker.
“They can do all this in the comfort of their own home without having to move.”
Despite being just 20, Nigel admits to spending a large sum of his weekly money on gambling. Now he has left college, Nigel claims he spends on average around £100 per week on the roulette and £30 per week on football bets and tends to stake even higher on both if more money comes into his life either through winning bets or work and Nigel has noticed he is not alone when it comes to betting such amounts.
“I know a lot of young people that gamble and waste their money on betting, I’m a member of a facebook gambling page where there is more than 1000 under 25’s betting very regularly.
“Some of my friends are still students and gamble a lot of their student loan as soon as they get it and the others gamble a lot of their work wage straight away, including me.”
But despite recent concerns over young people and students gambling, bookmaker Paddy Power recently held a student poker tournament exclusively for students in Dublin, Ireland with a hefty buy in price of €120 in March and April. However this is a very rare case showing bookies actually enticing students especially to start gambling, the idea that gambling should only be for fun, especially for people at a young age is still there but the high stakes still create a concern.
Online gambling has evolved into a national phenomenon with adverts for online bookies and casinos taking over both TV and sport. Companies such as Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill are now well known names across the country both online and in shop form. But an unusual online gambling tool called Shake-a-bet has been introduced onto mobile phones by William Hill. This involves the user deciding what type of bet and what type of sport to bet on, then shaking their phone which makes the app randomly decide what bet to place. This is a quirky and unusual way to gamble but could develop people to start unsensibly gambling their money on literally random acts.
Bookmakers and especially online bookmakers may not be doing much directly to entice students to gamble, but perhaps it should be shown that a £9,000 tuition fee will eventually lead to some people turning to gambling to recoup their losses, and with students fees having no sign on falling anytime soon and the continuing issues surrounding unemployment in the UK, gambling can only have the chance to grow even more in popularity. What was once just a place for older gentleman has become a young man’s game that could affect many people future back pockets.