BGC urges further education to combat underage gambling

13 December 2019

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the newly formed trade association for the UK gambling industry, has called for further education for young people and their parents to help combat underage and illegal gambling.

The BGC was responding to a University of Bristol report, which, commissioned by GambleAware, claimed UK young people will have developed regular patterns of play and gambling habits by the age of 20, with more than half of 17 year-olds gambling in some form.

Tapping into the university’s long-term health research study of 14,000 young people, ‘Children of the 90s’, the study measured young peoples’ gambling at ages 17, 20 and 24. It found that 54% of 17 year-olds claimed to have gambled in the past year.

The BGC noted that most young people gamble without harm and that the most common forms of gambling by 17-year-olds were scratch cards, the lottery and private gambling with friends, all of which are legal.

However, the BGC also said the report illustrated the need for a collaborative industry approach with a zero tolerance of betting and gaming by anyone underage. Young people under the age of 18 are not permitted to gambling with any BGC members.

“We firmly believe that educating young people and their parents about the risks and illegality of underage betting and gaming is of the utmost importance,” BGC chair Brigid Simmonds said.

Simmonds noted the BGC’s own efforts in this area, including the introduction of new age verification procedures that were introduced this year and a whistle-to-whistle ban on advertising during the coverage of live sport.

The BGC’s Youth Outreach programme has also developed local hubs to help identify individuals at risk of problem gambling. More than 7,500 young people have already benefitted from the initiative, with 2,000 professionals currently working on the project.

“Such initiatives can ensure that when young people turn 18, they know the risks associated with betting and gaming and they can engage with a fair and safe environment in an enjoyable way,” Simmonds said.

In terms of future activities, the BGC last month announced its Safer Gambling Commitments, a new safer gambling initiative aimed at addressing the harm gambling can cause to consumers and young people.

BGC members will commit £10m (€12.0m/$13.4m) to a four-year education campaign for adolescents and young people, while PHSE teaching on gambling will become mandatory in schools from September 2020.

Elsewhere, the BGC is working with the financial services sector to ensure young people cannot make gambling transactions when underage, while work is also ongoing with advertising bodies to introduce new technology to prevent gaming adverts being seen by anyone under the age of 18.

“There are two strands to our approach to young people and gambling,” Simmonds said. “Firstly, ensuring that no one under the age of 18 can gamble illegally, and secondly providing young people and their parents with the necessary education and support to bet and game safely and responsibly.

“We look forward to making great progress in these areas in 2020, working collaboratively with organisations across the sector.”