Thousands of gambling addicted students are spending an average of £30 a week on bets, racking up debt and missing out on university life to fund their habit, research has found.
In a survey of 2,000 students, 80% said they gambled, with 35% of those who did admitting to using student loans, bank overdrafts, borrowing from friends or taking out payday loans.
Of those who gambled, 41% said it caused them to miss class, homework deadlines or social activities.
There are approximately 2.5 million students in the UK, indicating that hundreds of thousands suffer financial or social harm from gambling.
Students said they spent £31.52 on bets in a week on average, while almost 20% admitted to spending over £50. They were asked how much they spent to gamble, with no distinction made between deposits and losses.
The most popular product was the national lottery (32%), including smartphone instant casino games, followed by online sports betting (25%) and online bingo (18%).
The report, by YGAM Youth Gambling Charity and Gamstop, the national tool for gamblers who want to ban themselves from online betting and gambling, based on previous research that found 88,000 students have a problem.
Martin Jones’ son Josh took his own life in 2015 after becoming addicted to gambling while studying at A-levels and then ran into financial difficulties at university.
“He went to halls of residence and within 10 days he had exhausted his first term loan, which was around £1,200,” Jones said.
Jones and his wife, Kim, ended up having to manage their son’s finances for the duration of his maths studies at the University of Surrey.
He got a job at accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers shortly after leaving college, but couldn’t escape gambling addiction. He committed suicide at the age of 23 after running into debt of £30,000.
Bray Ash, 29, who is studying mental health nursing at King’s College London, having studied at the University of Leeds, also blew his student loan.
“It took over my life – I wasn’t studying, I was just sitting in my hallways playing,” he said.
“[During] my sophomore year of college, I ended up playing my student loan within the first 24 hours.
“It is important that students have access to organisations, such as YGAM, to educate them about the game and provide them with support and that they are aware of essential tools such as self-exclusion if they encounter any problems. with their game. I know it would have benefited me when I was at my lowest.
A spokesperson for the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) said the majority of youth gambling was with scratch cards, lottery and private betting, not with BGC members.
“The BGC is also funding the £10million Youth Gambling Harm Prevention Programme, run by leading charities YGAM and GamCare, which is provided to all 11-19 year olds in the UK and to those who work with them,” a spokesperson said.