Don’t gamble your way to graduation

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Gambling might be a term that you associate with casinos, online poker chips and fruit machines, and it may not be something you associate massively with students. But according to research from the Young Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), in 2019 almost half of students had gambled within the last year.

Research published by The Lancet in July suggests that the mental health of young people aged 18-24 has deteriorated this year, likely due to the ongoing pandemic. This is a concerning development, as YGAM’s research on the topic suggests that students often turn to gambling and gaming when they are depressed, as a desire to feel more ‘in control’ of their day-to-day activities. One third of students said their gambling habits have had a negative effect on their wellbeing.

Before the pandemic, YGAM found that 264,000 students in the UK are at some risk from gambling with around 88,000 already classified as problem gamblers. Nearly half of students we spoke to who gamble look to top up their student loan with scratch cards or the lottery, but many are also betting online and going to casinos. More recently, a student we spoke to told us they’d developed a habit of playing online poker due the absence of sporting matches during the pandemic.

16% of student gamblers have gambled more than they could afford to, and over half of moderate risk and problem gambler students thought seriously about dropping out of university. These negative impacts constitute what is called ‘gambling-related harm’, and it is at the core of YGAM’s mission to inform, educate and safeguard young people from the risks.

To prevent gambling-related harm it is important that students understand the potential consequences to enable them to make informed decisions. Our short form of the Problem Gambling Severity Index under this ‘Know your own gambling risk’ survey can help identify where you may sit on the scale, though it is not a definitive judgement on your gambling due to its simplicity.

You will find lots of important information, advice and guidance to support you to enjoy university free from gambling-related harm on our Student Hub. On our Staying Safe page you can access advice on budgeting and find national resources such as GamStop which enables you to put controls in place to restrict online gambling activities. If you want to learn how to approach the topic of gambling with a friend you’re concerned about, check back with the Student Hub in November for fresh tools and advice.

Test your knowledge with YGAM’s gambling quizzes!

YGAM supports students to enjoy university free from gaming and gambling harms. Learn more and access its resources on