Gambling with our youth


Chiara Marin explores the problem of young people and gambling, and how the ‘Youth Problem Gambling Initiative’ run by Fast Forward can help.

chiara-marin-fastforwardCan you remember the last time you saw a gambling advert? Can you name 3 different betting shops? Have you ever gambled?

I bet you’ve said yes to at least one of those 3 questions!

Gambling is increasingly all around us. Just think about how many gambling adverts you see when watching a football match or reading a newspaper. Consider how far (or how little!) you need to walk to get to your nearest betting shop or to buy a scratch card.

Gambling can be a sociable and fun activity. However it can also become an addiction, bringing serious consequences for the gambler and affecting their family and friends. Although it’s not a new phenomenon, problem gambling often goes unrecognised. In fact, young people’s gambling has been dubbed a ‘hidden addiction’ (Drevensky, Shek and Merrick 2011, Drevensky 2012).

In 2006, a study carried out by Moodie and Finnigan in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire found a prevalence of problem gambling of 9% among those aged 11 to 16 – a much higher percentage compared to the data found in England and Wales. As the authors stated, gambling in general is commonplace among Scotland’s youth.

Although this remains the most recent survey establishing a baseline rate for problem gambling among young people in Scotland, in the last few years there has been a number of international studies looking at young people’s gambling behaviour.

Overall, literature indicates how important it is to have effective early intervention in place, through educational and prevention programmes for young people. In order to do so, it’s fundamental to offer appropriate training opportunities to practitioners working with young people. Teachers and youth workers are the people best placed to address the topic of problem gambling with young people. Indeed, these practitioners are more likely to meet young people who already have problems with their gambling, particularly if they are working in deprived areas or with young people engaging in other risk-taking behaviours.

Fast Forward, a national youth work charity addressing young people’s health and well-being, has been working since 2014 to promote preventative and educational programmes on youth problem gambling, using a harm reduction approach.

The ‘Youth Problem Gambling Initiative’ started in April 2014 with a pilot in Edinburgh and the Lothians. This project then received a further 2 year funding from the Responsible Gambling Trust, which enabled us to offer our training programme across Scotland from January 2016.

Our CPD sessions support practitioners to acquire the tools and knowledge to prevent the onset of ‘at-risk’ gambling behaviour among the young people they work with, increasing the availability of information and support.

Training participants also receive a copy of the ‘Youth Problem Gambling Toolkit’. This is a new manual, created to support practitioners with information and resources they can use in their work when addressing the topic of youth problem gambling.

In the first 6 months of this year, we ran 14 training sessions involving a total of 137 practitioners.

The data collected through these sessions highlighted the need for this training. Nearly 18% of attendees said they had previously provided support on problem gambling at least once to young people aged 11-15, and about 45% to young people aged 16-25. However, respondents to our survey reported lacking sufficient knowledge and resources to confidently offer educational activities and effective support on this topic. Our training programme aims to bridge this gap.

We received very positive feedback after each training session, with attendees also expressing how they plan on taking forward the learning.

“I will include a question regarding gambling when I’m profiling tenants debts and income in relation to checking an issue which prevent them paying their rent.”

“I will discuss this with team regarding delivery in schools and youth groups.”

“This will make current delivery more interesting and interactive.”

 “I am more likely to raise the issue of gambling.”

We are also collecting feedback from those attendees who have started using the toolkit. This will allow us to include practitioner suggestions and ideas in the final version of the toolkit, which we plan to launch online next year.

Further information:

Would you like to attend a training? Check out our online Eventbrite calendar! We’ll run more CPD sessions in the coming months, including some which will be tailored specifically to teachers. Stay tuned to hear about our future developments!

To receive the newsletter and other updates regarding the Youth Problem Gambling Initiative, please email Chiara Marin, project officer, at:

Useful reading includes work researching the links between social gaming and online gambling, the role of advertising, as well as that of family and peer groups in introducing children to gambling. For an overview, a good starting point is the recently published report ‘Children and young people’s gambling: research review’ (2016) by Professor Valentine for the Responsible Gambling Trust.

For further information on problem gambling, please consult:


One thought on “Gambling with our youth

  1. […] Chiara Marin, Senior Development Officer at Fast Forward, was invited to present about the Youth Problem Gambling Initiative. This is a programme we currently run across Scotland, having secured funding from GambleAware. We provide free training on youth gambling and problem gambling and we’re developing a gambling education toolkit (to find out more check out our article here). […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s