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Students borrowing money to gamble

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

More than one in three university students who gamble are using borrowed money to do so, according to the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM).

A survey of 2,000 students across the UK found that 80% of them have gambled. More than four in 10 (41%) of this group admitted that gambling has had a negative impact on their university experience, including missing lectures, assignment deadlines and social activities.

More than a third (35%) of student gamblers are using money from their student loan, gone into their overdraft, taken out a payday loan, or have borrowed from friends to help fund their gambling. Nearly one in five (19%) admit to using their student loan to gamble.

The research, conducted by Censuswide, was jointly commissioned by Gamstop, the national online self-exclusion scheme, and YGAM, a charity that educates and safeguards vulnerable people against gaming and gambling-related harms.

The mean gambling spend for students is £31.52 per week but almost one in five (18%) admit to spending more than £50 per week. Less than half of gamblers (45%) say they spend no more than £10 a week. Nearly four in 10 (38%) say they gamble at least once a week, with 63% gambling at least once a month.

More than one in four (28%) say they are gambling as often, or more often, than before the pandemic and 29% say they are spending as much or more than they did before the pandemic. The most popular gambling products during the pandemic have been the National Lottery (32%), online sports betting (25%), and online bingo (18%).

Almost half (46%) the students who gamble say that making money is a motivation – the most common reason given – and one in four (25%) say they enjoy the risk. More than half (52%) say that gambling makes them feel excited and one in three (33%) say it makes them happy, compared to one in five (21%) who describe feeling anxious.

Amongst students who gamble, more than one in three (36%) have invested in cryptocurrency in the past 12 months – compared to just 17% of students who don’t gamble.

Students also revealed that their friends are the biggest influence on their gambling (34%) with nearly one in four (23%) most influenced by social media and 14% of students identifying gambling advertising as a key influence on their gambling.

Fiona Palmer, CEO of Gamstop, said: “Gambling-related harm on our campuses is a subject that is rarely addressed, but for any students experiencing problems with their gambling, self-exclusion can give them valuable breathing space whilst they seek additional help. With online gambling increasingly prevalent during the pandemic, the research shows the importance of raising awareness of a free online self-exclusion service, which is accessible to all”.

Daniel Bliss, director of external affairs at YGAM, said: “This research provides us with some valuable insights into the behaviours of students during the pandemic. We’re keen to build on this piece of work to better understand how our programmes can safeguard and support students. The findings reiterate the importance of educating our young people on the risks and harms associated with gambling. Education is a powerful tool to ensure students are equipped with the knowledge and understanding to help prevent harm.”