More than half of British people over the age of 16 have gambled in the past twelve months according to figures released by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).
The 2019 Health Survey of England report also puts the rise of brits gambling down to the popularity of smartphones and the aggressive tactics employed by online gambling firms.
The survey quizzed 10,000 adults and children on their lifestyles and found that 29% of men aged 25 to 34 admitted to gambling over the previous year. For those aged 65 and over, this figure was closer to 4% showing a clear sway towards younger males. However, across the entire male gender, 15% had gambled during the year when only 4% of women had done the same.
Between the ages of 16 to 24, men were the most likely to be considered to be problem gamblers, with 1.9% showing such symptoms, compared with 0.4% of the general population.
Gambling Very Common In Society
The survey found that, including the National Lottery, 53% of adults had partaken in some kind of gambling activity over the previous 12 months. When the National Lottery is excluded that figures becomes 39% and includes 56% of men aged between 25 and 34.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said;
“These new statistics are a stark reminder of how common gambling is in our society and how easy it is to become addicted, particularly with the aggressive push into online gambling.”
“The NHS never stands still as health needs change, which is why we’re rolling out new specialist services to tackle mental ill health linked to gambling addiction as part of our long-term plan. But it is high time that all these firms who spend many millions on marketing and advertising step up to the plate and take their responsibilities seriously.”
Smartphones To Blame for Rising Addiction Rates
Despite being a shockingly high number, a similar survey conducted in 2016 by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) showed that, at the time, 56% of adults aged 16 or older gambled, while 62% had done so the previous year proving that the 2019 rate is at least on the decline.
It used to be that in order to make a bet or any other kind of gambling wager, not including playing on fruit machines, you would have to physically walk into a betting shop or a casino in order to do so. Now, of course, with online gambling, and in particular mobile technology, you can bet any time of day or night, all from the comfort of your own home.
Thanks to easy access to the internet via mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops as well as a bombardment of online gambling adverts, television commercials and new sites opening weekly, it is not surprising that the NHS have unearthed such findings given the fear that such mobile devices are making it too easy for people to gamble.
Gambling Habits Developed By 20
According to another survey, one from the University of Bristol, a person’s gambling habits will have been developed by the age of 20 with more than half of 17 year olds gambling regularly in some form.
The study, commissioned by GambleAware, drew from the experiences of 14,000 young people, split in to three groups of 3,500 people each, representing the age groups 17, 20 and 24. It revealed that 54% of 17 year-olds claimed to have gambled in the past year, which rose to 68% for 20 year olds and 66% for those aged 24.
For the youngest age group, lotteries and lotto based scratchcards made up the majority of wagers made, but for young men in particular, online betting activity jumped massively from 9% to 35% for the 20 year olds and to 47% for those aged 24.
While online gaming activity also rose among females, this went from 0.8% at 17, to 4% at 20, then 11% at 24. The study also found that participants who were heavy social media users, played video games regularly or whose parents gambled regularly were more likely to develop the habit.
Gambling Review Now Inevitable
The chief executive of the UK industry organisation the Gambling Business Group (GBG), Peter Hannibal has warned the industry to brace itself for an inevitable overhaul of national legislation in the years following the next general election in the UK.
Speaking after all of the UK’s major political parties had included gambling industry reviews in their manifestos ahead of the election, Hannibal said;
“A review of gambling legislation is now inevitable, whatever the make-up of the next parliament. We should look upon this as an opportunity to re-set the narrative around gambling in the UK, but this will require a different approach from everyone, not least from the industry itself. This is going to happen, and we need to be preparing for it now.”
“While it could be two years before we see any real movement, I think it’s essential that we start the process immediately after we know the outcome of the general election. Both of the main parties are now on the same page, which makes change inevitable whatever the outcome of the December 12 election. This is an opportunity to start over and we must use it.”