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28th February 2019

Students resort to gambling to cover the cost of living

New analysis from The Gambling Commission estimates that two in three students gamble – equivalent to 1.2 million people
Students resort to gambling to cover the cost of living
Gambling on your education Picture: Zdenko Zivkovic @ Flickr

Thousands of students are relying on gambling to support themselves through university – and some have been left with debts as high as £5,000.

That’s according to the National Union of Students which has claimed students are increasingly reliant on such activities due to the failures of the government student loan system.

It found that nearly half of students who gamble do so to supplement their income.

Students are particularly vulnerable to gambling in recent years due to the changes in technology and readily-available student loans. Recent technology has allowed online bookmakers to target their ads at ex-gamblers to lure them back to their websites.

The Gambling Commission has discovered that two in three students gamble which amounts to roughly 1.2 million people.

Tim Miller, the Gambling Commission’s director for research said: “Whilst many may do so without experiencing harm, for some, gambling can lead to debt, time away from lectures and potentially lead to a longer term problem with gambling.”

There is currently very little support at university campuses to build awareness or counsel students with a problem. Numerous students who are frequent gamblers blame the open-ended hours of free time at university as the main reason for their addiction. They also continually highlight the lack of a support system, or someone to turn to in helping with their addiction.

For many students, they suddenly find themselves for the first time with more of a disposable income in the form of a student loan which is all too tempting. Once involved, the gambling industry is very effective at retaining their customers through incentives, discounts and adverts.

It’s estimated that around 127,000 students have a gambling problem in the UK. This has become more prevalent since the revision of the Gambling Act that means that casinos no longer need a membership for entry and online gambling sites can now advertise on television.

Trevor David, a consultant at Gamcare, a gambling charity has stated that: “More education is needed – people need to know how to spot a gambling problem in others and what help and support to provide.

“University staff need to know how to spot a problem and what support to provide. Student money advisers, for example, should know what simple questions they can ask to find out if a student is having trouble with gambling.”

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