Idex identifies underage gambling as key issue
04 March 2020 18:09 GMT

Although commercial gambling under 18 years-old is illegal in the UK, the number of young people betting underage is on the rise. New research commissioned by IDEX Biometrics ASA reveals almost three-in-ten (29%) of Generation Z (those born after 1995) accessed online gambling sites while underage. On average, respondents were just 15 years old when they first visited gambling sites or apps.

The research supports findings from the UK Gambling Commission, which found 450,000 young people between 11-16 years old bet regularly in Britain.

The growth of betting websites and apps has created more opportunities for young people to easily place bets from their smartphones and devices, leaving children increasingly vulnerable to the adverse impact of gambling. The research found that a quarter (25%) of Generation Z, who accessed gambling sites or apps underage, believe they are at higher risk of becoming addicted to online betting, than if they had waited until they were over 18. Worryingly, more than one-in-ten (11%) of Generation Z said they were traumatised by their experiences with online gambling.

A respondent at an IDEX focus group, held as part of the research, echoed this concern around gambling addiction among children. Wawee, a 20-year-old from London, said: “Gambling is serious, it’s a real rollercoaster of emotions. I think gambling is more socially acceptable today, so people wouldn’t feel so bad if children had access to their online details, but it should be more protected so kids can’t get addicted”.

 

Eight-in-ten (80%) Generation Z respondents share his concerns and believe it’s important to protect children from accessing gambling sites or apps while under 18 years old. Interestingly, respondents consider it is more important to protect children from gambling than adult content (70%) and social media (57%).

 

“The growth of child gambling in the UK is a worrying trend. This research shows that Generation Z expects gambling organisations to do more to protect vulnerable children from getting addicted to online betting,” comments David Orme, Senior Vice President at IDEX. “Adopting a biometric digital ID solution for age verification would enable the online gambling industry to quickly and securely confirm users are over the age of 18 before placing bets, meaning accounts couldn’t be accessed fraudulently.”

 

Despite extensive gambling regulations, online betting sites still rely on manual age checks to authenticate the age of new users, which can take up to 72 hours. As a response to this, 61% of Generation Z believes biometrics - such as fingerprint authentication - should be used to protect underage children from accessing gambling sites or apps. Interestingly, this opinion is highest among the youngest age group; 81% of 16-17-year-olds want to see biometric ID introduced to protect children from online gambling.

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