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New research shows that one in four gamblers may have experienced harm, and one in two students say that their university experience has been affected by gambling.

A survey of 2,000 UK students revealed that 71% had gambled within the past 12 months. 28% of those who gambled in the past year were found to have a moderate risk and 24% had a pattern that could be considered as problem gambling.

Censuswide’s independent research is a follow-up to the survey commissioned last year by education charity Ygam, and GAMSTOP (the national online self exclusion service).

The Short-form PGSI, a commonly used measure of problem gambling’ in the UK, was included in this year’s survey. This allowed researchers to better understand the risk levels of students in the sample.

Half of respondents said that gambling had negatively impacted their university experience. 13% reported difficulty paying for food, 10% missed lectures, 10% claimed that gambling had affected their grades and assignments, and 10% said they struggled to pay their bills or for accommodation. However, 45% of people who gamble knew about the support they had at their universities.

Nearly one in two gamblers (48%) claim they play to make money. However, only 11% of gamblers report winning money on an average week. One third of gamblers spend PS11-PS20 a week, while nearly one quarter (23%) spend PS21-505, and 13% spend PS51-PS100. 4.5% of gamblers say they cannot stop gambling.

Some students borrow money to finance their gambling. They borrow 8% from their friends and family, and 6% by payday loans.

Over 40% of students bought cryptocurrency in the past year. This is significantly higher than the average figure for the entire population. This may not be surprising considering the demographics of students, but it could have had an impact on the financial well-being of this group in an era when cryptocurrency prices plummeted.

Today’s full report includes both the results of questions that were asked to gamblers and those who have not. To better understand the views of these respondents on gambling behavior and attitudes among their friends, we rephrased the questions for them.

Three key recommendations are made in the report:

  • Make sure that schools offer universal prevention education to prepare students for the risk of gambling.
  • Every university should consider gambling as part of its health and well-being strategy.
  • To better understand how students gamble and to prevent future harms, further research is needed.

Dr Jane Rigbye Chief Executive Officer at Ygam stated:

These findings provide insight into students’ attitudes and behaviors towards gambling. Based on data from last year, it is clear that a significant portion of students gamble regularly and that many are engaging in gambling activities that could lead to them experiencing harm.

“The data highlights the importance of educating young people about the dangers associated with gambling. Our partners are collaborating with us to visit universities across the UK in order to reach students and provide training for university staff. Universities must take this issue seriously and engage with them. We want to collaborate with more universities in order to prevent these harms and provide support for students who need it.

Bray Ash ( 29), who struggled with a gambling addiction for many years as a student, and now studies to be a Mental Health nurse said:

“Many will be surprised at the GAMSTOP & Ygam-commissioned research. For me, it’s a reminder about the seriousness of gambling addiction students are faced with every day. I suffered from a severe gambling addiction during my university years. This kept me in my room for many days. I gambled day and night alone in my room. I rarely left my room except to purchase food, and occasionally I would visit a friend.

“I was supported by my student loan money and fell into a gambling addiction. I finally got the courage to tell my friends and seek treatment. GAMSTOP was not available when I was first starting university. They are now available and have helped thousands of students. It’s one of my top recommendations for anyone who thinks they may be suffering from gambling harms.

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