New Efforts in UK to Prevent Underage Gambling

New Efforts in UK to Prevent Underage Gambling

Britain is introducing new measures to help protect children and young people from the harms of gambling, and especially at a time when growing numbers of people are playing at online casinos via their mobile phones or tablets, meaning there can often be little or no interaction with staff who might otherwise not allow those who are underage to play.

The rise of mobile devices, compared to what had been the more usual way of accessing the internet, via a PC or laptop, is promoting more online gambling firms to develop their own apps that their customers can use to log into their accounts and play their casino and other games. This means that by using a live mobile casino, there’s no longer a need to travel to a physical one, saving on expenses as well as time and allowing you to bet when and where you like.

Now, the UK Gambling Commission, the government watchdog overseeing the gambling and betting sector, including the National Lottery, has published what it calls a framework for understanding the harms that gambling can pose to the youth, which is part of an overall strategy to examine how adults can also be negatively impacted by gambling. It comes at a time when the Commission is engaged in a lengthy investigation into online gambling firms and dishing out big fines to those that don’t meet its standards.

Comprehending the Harms of Gambling

The Commission says that with its framework, it, along with its industry partners — the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling and GambleAware, a charity working to minimise gambling-related harms — wants to gain an insight into how gambling can impact young people’s health and relationships, as well as their finances.

“Gaining a better understanding of the impact of gambling on children and young people is a key priority for the Commission,” said its programme director for safer gambling, Helen Rhodes. “Childhood and adolescence is a key stage of development and any harms experienced at this stage in life can be detrimental to the future development, confidence and potential of young people.”

She added: “This newly released framework will provide critical insight into the range of harms that young people in Britain can experience and will help greatly in concentrating the National Strategy’s prevention and education initiatives where they will have the most impact.”

Gambling Boom in the UK

Online gambling, as well as that in casinos and betting shops, is growing spectacularly, as more people than ever use apps to play and bet — and is now worth around £14.5 billion in Britain, according to the latest figures from the Commission. In total, the industry employs over 106,000 people around the four-nation country comprising England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and most of the growth is in the online gambling sector.

This is evident with a decline in the number of betting shops in the UK, which now stands at 8,423 premises. That’s down 1.5% from March 2018, while the online, or remote, gambling sector gained a 1.2% market share increase to 39% of the overall gambling market and is worth some £5.4 billion.

Digital technologies and the internet have transformed many traditional sectors, and now, it seems, it’s the turn of the gambling industry. In the meantime, the regulator is doing all it can to protect those who shouldn’t be gambling in the first place. “This will take time and the framework will evolve as we move into the next phase of this work. We encourage our partners in delivering the National Strategy, including public health officials and academics to feed back to us as we move into the next phase of work,” said the Commission’s Rhodes.

David Robertson