The NUS has conducted research into the gambling habits of students at university. Their definition of gambling ranges from buying scratch cards over the counter to playing poker at casinos.
Research showed that over half of students who gambled did so to supplement their income, and that nearly a quarter of those felt guilty when doing so. This could also demonstrate a link between gambling and mental health. Those who have struggled with their mental health when gambling name stress and depression as the most common feelings.
The research concludes that universities should be doing more to support their students and offer guidance on gambling and how it can affect mental health. Awareness must be raised to show that while there is a possibility gambling can lead to an increase in cash flow, there are understandably a number of risks involved. Many people forget that betting, poker and bingo can be addictive. Highspeedtraining.co.uk, a training provider which offers courses in gambling awareness, explains that ‘the brain becomes conditioned into wanting more and more to trigger its reward system.’ Today, gambling addiction is being taken more seriously, as ‘it’s now recognised as an addiction akin to substance addiction.’
Recently, gambling has become a norm within society. Innocuous activities such as playing on slot machines in a pub, going along to bingo with friends, or buying a scratch card when popping to the shops can become activities of habit. Online gambling has increased dramatically in recent years. Instead of taking the trip to a casino or a bingo hall, students are increasingly gambling online, using sights like 888poker.com, paddypower.com and tombola.com. Gambling is more accessible than ever: you don’t have to leave home, or even your sofa.
When asked why he occasionally plays poker, student Lee Casey commented ‘I enjoy it, but I also play for the thrill. I like playing against an opponent aside from having that element of luck.’ Casey appears to hold the same reasons for gambling and playing poker as most. He further commented that ‘It’s the fun and the thrill. And you might even win.’
NUS Vice President (welfare), Eva Crossan Jory, stated, ‘We are particularly concerned that around half of students who gamble are doing [so] primarily to make money. The student support package has remained stagnant and in recent years has not kept up with the rising cost of living.’ It is easy to see why students may turn to gambling as a quick way to make extra money to add to their student loans; however, the risk that is involved in gambling cannot be ignored.
With the rise of gambling amongst students, NUS have teamed up with Gamban gambling blocking software. This software will be offered free to all students. Although this software may seem to be a dramatic step to deter student gambling, the Gambling Commission and the NUS surveyed 1,618 students in Higher Education and found that one in eight students will bet more money than they can afford to lose, with one in ten using a part of their student loan to gamble with. These attitudes towards gambling and finances could be seen as irresponsible. Student’s Unions across the country are continuing to support students with addiction concerns and financial instability with the help of Student Support Services.
Hopefully with the introduction of widespread advice about the risks of gambling, students will understand the negatives of gambling more and keep them in mind when playing poker, bingo or when purchasing scratch cards.