A teachers’ crash course on the risks of online gambling

The amount of time young people spend gambling online is hard to track, and the ways in which they gamble are evolving, but schools can highlight the dangers

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Some 450,000 people aged 11-15 gamble each week, according to a recent report by the Gambling Commission. To put this in context, this is more than the number who have an alcoholic drink or smoke a cigarette.

As online gambling becomes more prevalent, the need for education about the difference between responsible and problem gambling is becoming apparent.

The minimum legal age for most types of gambling in the UK is 18. Exceptions are the National Lottery and scratch cards (16 or older), and certain types of arcade game, such as penny slots.

Problem gambling can have a profound effect on a person’s life, contributing to financial, social or mental health issues. It often disproportionately affects already at-risk groups, including those with low emotional states and those already engaging in risky behaviour, such as truanting or drug use.

Online gambling can be particularly difficult for schools to monitor. New forms of gambling such as e-sports betting (placing bets on professionals playing computer games in front of live audiences) and skins betting (using roulette-style games on third-party sites to bet on the real-world value of in-game bonuses such as ‘skins’ for weapons and avatars) are increasingly popular.

And whereas a young person regularly frequenting a bookmaker might be easy to spot, the amount of time they spend gambling online is hard to track.

Ways to help

However, there are ways to have a positive effect on young people’s gambling behaviour. At a whole-school level, filtering software that blocks access to sites with gambling functions, can be effectively implemented.

Meanwhile, charities such as GamCare provide online resources aimed at young people: bigdeal.org.uk hosts a range of quizzes and videos that can be used in lessons or assemblies.

The site provides blogs and interactive features aimed at raising awareness of responsible gambling and opportunities for support. Young people can also read and share real stories of problematic gambling, or contact GamCare’s NetLine support service.

Online services such as these can complement, but not replace, supportive conversations with teachers or other responsible adults.

To make sure staff at school feel comfortable having these types of conversations, enlist an external training provider to coach your team on how to screen for problems and where to refer young people for further information and support. GamCare offers this training free of charge.

Ultimately, online problem gambling is a safeguarding issue and teachers must treat it as such.

Megan Pengelly is youth outreach coordinator at GamCare. For more information, go to bit.ly/EduGC

Some 450,000 people aged 11-15 gamble each week, according to a recent report by the Gambling Commission. To put this in context, this is more than the number who have an alcoholic drink or smoke a cigarette.

As online gambling becomes more prevalent, the need for education about the difference between responsible and problem gambling is becoming apparent.

The minimum legal age for most types of gambling in the UK is 18. Exceptions are the National Lottery and scratch cards (16 or older), and certain types of arcade game, such as penny slots.

Problem gambling can have a profound effect on a person’s life, contributing to financial, social or mental health issues. It often disproportionately affects already at-risk groups, including those with low emotional states and those already engaging in risky behaviour, such as truanting or drug use.

Online gambling can be particularly difficult for schools to monitor. New forms of gambling such as e-sports betting (placing bets on professionals playing computer games in front of live audiences) and skins betting (using roulette-style games on third-party sites to bet on the real-world value of in-game bonuses such as ‘skins’ for weapons and avatars) are increasingly popular.

And whereas a young person regularly frequenting a bookmaker might be easy to spot, the amount of time they spend gambling online is hard to track.

However, there are ways to have a positive effect on young people’s gambling behaviour. At a whole-school level, filtering software that blocks access to sites with gambling functions, can be effectively implemented.

Meanwhile, charities such as GamCare provide online resources aimed at young people: bigdeal.org.uk hosts a range of quizzes and videos that can be used in lessons or assemblies.

The site provides blogs and interactive features aimed at raising awareness of responsible gambling and opportunities for support. Young people can also read and share real stories of problematic gambling, or contact GamCare’s NetLine support service.

Online services such as these can complement, but not replace, supportive conversations with teachers or other responsible adults.

To make sure staff at school feel comfortable having these types of conversations, enlist an external training provider to coach your team on how to screen for problems and where to refer young people for further information and support. GamCare offers this training free of charge.

Ultimately, online problem gambling is a safeguarding issue and teachers must treat it as such.

Megan Pengelly is youth outreach coordinator at GamCare. For more information, go to bit.ly/EduG

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