UK Tries Out Problem Gambling Courses

The UK has completed a trail program for school education courses on the risks of problem gambling. Demos Think Tank initiated the pilot program to teach children about the risks of gambling and where to go for help and support. Lessons were taught at a number of secondary schools reaching about 650 pupils. Of those pupils, 41 percent said they had gambled in the last year.

The UK has held a trial program of problem gambling courses reaching 650 secondary school students.

About 25,000 children in the UK are currently classed as problem gamblers, with one recent survey finding that one in six 11-to-15-year-olds admitted to gambling in the last week. About 41 percent of the 650 students that took the course said they had gambled in the last year.

The lessons teach children about the risks of gambling and where to go for help and support. The group said the courses encourage pupils to consider the risks of gambling, identify manipulative behavior by gambling companies, learn about managing impulses, and help others who are experiencing gambling problems, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper.

The group said a series of four lessons were taught at schools across the country.

“Given that young people are routinely taught about the risks of drugs, alcohol and underage sex, the fact that so few are taught about gambling is an anomaly,” said Simone Vibert, a social policy researcher at Demos. “Problem gambling can wreak havoc on people’s lives, not to mention their friends, families and the wider economy. Prevention is clearly preferable to treatment later down the line. These lessons encourage pupils to weigh risk, manage impulses and advise others—all things that can help prevent problem gambling and other risky behavior too.”

Over the 12-month test period, Demos observed a significant decline in the proportion of pupils playing cards for money, with a net decline of seven percentage points relative to a comparison group. The group also saw a large increase in the proportion of pupils able to describe how to help someone experiencing gambling problems, and increased awareness of where to go to talk about gambling problems, the report said.

The think tank is now urging the government to include lessons about the dangers of gambling as part of regular education, which is currently under review.