Research into student gambling has reignited questioning as to whether government regulation on the betting industry should increase.
A survey conducted for the Gambling Commission concluded many students put their health and education at risk after falling into dangerous gambling habits.
The National Union of Students (NUS) said gambling is seen as “a quick fix” for growing financial pressure for some students. In a statement responding to the recent figures, the NUS said addiction to gambling can cause students “to lose huge amounts of money in a very short amount of time”, which is especially problematic “for students with existing mental health issues”.
Gambling Commission director Ben Haden said more needed to be done to tackle the issue among undergraduates.
Mr Haden said: “Clearly with the raft of new students heading to uni at this time of year we should do more for the student population.” His organisation used a research agency to survey a thousand young people online. The survey asked students whether they had gambled in the month leading up to the time they filled out the survey. Three out of five students said they had, leading the Commission to estimate more than 100,000 students could be in debt from gambling across the UK.
Speaking anonymously, one undergraduate told Concrete they placed bets regularly, and had lost almost £200 since the start of the academic year. They said it was not having a detrimental effect on their health, however, and said it was fun to place bets on political events as well as sport matches.
This convivial approach to gambling is not the picture for many students, however. Gambling Commission’s conclusions stated one in eight students in their survey said they had missed class because of gambling.
In the last five years, online betting has taken centre stage in the market, making it even easier for students to register, login, and spend their week’s food budget in mere minutes. Regulations were also lifted on casinos, when revisions were made to the Gambling Act, allowing them to take customers who are not registered members. Rows of betting shops are now a regular feature on any town’s high street, dominating parades, and offering an oasis of stress relief to many students in the evenings.
One student research company argued students fall into the trap of a gambling addiction when they try to make ends meet by betting. Save the Student said 7 percent of students surveyed said they gamble for extra cash.
Jake Butler from the website said: “We would never condone gambling as a way to make money and it’s disappointing to see that the current student loan system is pushing some students down this path due to sheer desperation.
If you ever consider gambling yourself, it’s important to know how incredibly addictive it can be, and remember the odds are never in your favour – no matter how much it might feel otherwise!”