Nearly half of students who gamble do so to supplement their income

Institutions must do more to raise awareness of the dangers of unsafe gambling, the National Union of Students (NUS) and Gambling Commission warns.

This warning comes amidst the launch of a new NUS report which shows that more than half of students have gambled over the last year.

In response, NUS have entered a partnership with Gamban gambling blocking software – which will now be offered free to all students.

With the help and assistance of The Gambling Commission, NUS has surveyed 1618 students and learners in Higher Education and found that :

  • 3 in 5 students have gambled in some way over the past 12 months.
  • Around half (48%) of students who gamble do so to make money.
  • 1 in 8 will bet more than they can afford to lose.
  • Almost 1 in 10 have used all or some of student loan to gamble.
  • Nearly a quarter feel guilty when gambling.
  • For those who have experienced problems with mental health when gambling, the most common feelings are of stress and feeling depressed.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Eva Crossan Jory, NUS Vice President (Welfare) said: ‘We are particularly concerned that around half of students who gamble are doing primarily to make money. The student support package has remained stagnant and in recent years has not kept up with the rising costs of living. With the recommendations of the post-18 funding review due in just a few weeks, there needs to be a renewed focus on the reasons why some students feel it’s necessary to supplement their income through gambling – which not only land students in even greater debt, but also can lead to feelings of guilt, stress and depression.’

One area that can assist students is self-exclusion. There are a number of software products than can be downloaded and block access to online gambling sites. Some of these have proven to be 99% affective and a good step in the right direction for many.

Eva said: ‘NUS has entered into a partnership with Gamban gambling blocking software to offer its platform free to all students. However, we are clear that institutions also have a responsibility to do more – to make students aware of the dangers associated with unsafe gambling, and to signpost to other help available if needed.’

The Gambling Commission who partnered with NUS and assisted in developing the questions posed to students are also concerned about how students use gambling as a means in this way

Helen Rhodes, Gambling Commission Programme Director, said: ‘These results add extra emphasis that there is a significant risk for young adults and for students that needs to be addressed, and we welcome the part NUS is playing to do so. Caution must be taken to use these results in context, as the research does not seek to be representative of the population, and uses methodology which may slightly overestimate the role of gambling in students’ lives.

‘Our Gambling in Great Britain 2016 report found that almost half of 16–24 year olds had gambled in the past year. We continue to work with NUS and other partners to consider how the risks of gambling can be shared with students and to make sure support is available when it is needed.’

Students’ union across the country continue to support students with addiction concerns and financial problems via their student support services and NUS encourages students with any concerns around this to get help by speak to a students’ union. Gambling is a danger that needs to be recognised.