What is gambling?

  • A person is gambling whenever he or she takes the chance of losing money or belongings, and when winning or losing is decided mostly by chance
  • There are many forms of gambling, including lotteries and scratch cards, card games like poker and blackjack, betting on sports or events, playing casino games, gambling machines or bingo

Different forms:


  • Lottery, Euromillions etc
  • Scratchcards
  • Bingo
  • Roulette
  • Slot machines
  • Post code lottery (time rather than cost)

Skill (at least partially):

  • Blackjack
  • Poker
  • Sports betting

How has gambling become so integrated into our lives?

  • Studies have identified that products in the gaming and gambling industries are converging
  • Online gambling opportunities are now available through multiple platforms (e.g. desk top computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones)
  • There is relatively little public information about, or awareness of, the potential risks associated with underage gambling in relation to other risk taking behaviours such as alcohol and drugs
  • Advertisement has been largely left free of policy or restriction, unlike other fields such as alcohol and cigarette brands
  • The internet may exacerbate young people’s ability to access gambling opportunities both legally and illegally given that young people – the so-called ‘net generation’ – use the internet more than any other age group

Some interesting facts

  • The odds of winning the National Lottery jackpot are about 1 in 14 million. Think of it like this: your friend Dave lives somewhere in London and you want to call him at home but don’t have his number. If you try reaching him by dialling one of 12.5 million London phone numbers, your odds of getting his number right on the first try are better than the odds of winning the lottery jackpot.
  • Getting hit by lightning is almost 4 times more likely than winning the lottery
  • Things falling from the sky and killing you are just generally a more likely outcome than winning the lottery. There’s a 1 in 10 million chance you’ll die from being hit by a falling plane part

Some important facts

  • In the UK, it is estimated that around 350,000 people are suffering from a gambling addiction
  • In recent years, the number of people experiencing problems with gambling has increased due to economic troubles associated with the global recession and an increase in the number of gambling outlets
  • Every year, over £7 billion is spent on gambling
  • The vast majority of people who could be classed as ‘problem gamblers’ do not seek help for their addiction. In fact, NHS statistics show that only around 5 percent of people seek help and only 1 percent get treatment for their gambling problem

The dangers of gambling

  • In every betting game, the odds are against the player. Every person who hits the jackpot on a slot machine is actually winning money that previous players lost. Many problem gamblers have the false belief that they will be able to “beat the system” but over time they’ll lose money, probably an awful lot of it
  • The more you gamble, the more likely it is you’ll lose more money. The odds are always stacked in the favour of those offering the bet – the bookies, casinos and lottery companies know that some people will win, but more people have to lose so that the companies can stay in business. Gambling companies having the odds in their favour is known as the house edge.

    Young people and gambling

The Young Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) are the source of the best facts about young people’s interaction with gambling.

Gambling is an issue that concerns many young people. The Gambling Commission ran a survey in 2019 to find the gambling habits of young people between the ages of 11 and 16 in the 7 days prior to the survey. Read the full survey results here.

They found: 

  • 11% of the young people surveyed had spent their own money on gambling and that the average bet was £17. 
  • The main reason that young people had taken part in gambling was ‘because it’s fun’ (55%). 
  • They also linked gambling to other harmful activities. 
  • The rate of young people that had gambled their own money is lower than those who had drunk alcohol (16%) but higher than those who had used e-cigarettes (6%), smoked tobacco (7%), or who had taken illegal drugs (5%).  
  • 1.7% of 11 – 16 year olds are counted as ‘problem gamblers’ and 2.7% as ‘at risk’ gamblers.  

Additionally, according to data collected by Beating Betting (a site that essentially teaches matched betting), 58.5% of 18 – 25 year olds believe that they are profitable in their gambling which the author of the article argues to be a ‘massively unrealistic quantity’. They argue that if this were to be the case, there would be a huge number of people who were banned or limited in their bets by bookmakers whereas in reality, large bookmakers such as Skybet report limiting only 2-3% of their client base. 

Those aged between 18 – 24 bet more than other age groups: 52.3% are risking more than £10 a month and 12.2% are risking more than £100 a month. 

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