Problem Gamblers More Likely To Give Children Scratch-offs, Asserts YouGov Study

New research in the UK has taken a look at how parents with gambling problems may foster similar traits in their children. It found a tendency in the segment to create interest in scratch-offs beginning at a young age.

UK National Lottery scratch-off
A player uncovers the results of a scratch-off instant-win lottery card in the UK. New research in the country suggests playing them from a young age can lead to addiction. (Image: Stonehouse Photographic)

Several studies, even some that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has conducted, have found that problem gambling in the UK is at an extremely low level. However, it is still a topic within the gaming industry that gets more attention than virtually any other.

In the latest example, according to The Guardian, British gambling charity GamCare commissioned YouGov to explore a possible link between gambling parents and their children. The study determined that a certain percentage of the group has a predilection for sharing their affinity with their offspring.

Scratching the Surface

The study targeted 4,000 parents in the UK, some as young as 16 years old. Of these, 12%, or 480, acknowledged having purchased scratch-offs for their children.

YouGov determined that, of that group, over 38% of problem gamblers in the UK purchased scratch-offs for their children. This is higher than the 22% of those YouGov categorized as having a minor gambling problem and 5% of non-gamblers.

Therefore, GamCare concluded that parents who buy their children scratch-offs are setting them up to become gambling addicts later in life. However, on the other hand, the fact that 38% had purchased scratch-offs means 62% didn’t.

The long-held theory that marijuana was a “gateway drug” to harder substances has already been completely debunked. This is true of the GamCare study, as well.

The National Lottery reported total scratch-off ticket sales of £1.73 billion (US$2.03 billion) in the first half of the 2021-22 fiscal year. This was a year-on-year improvement of 1.6%. However, at the same time, the UK problem gambling rate decreased from 0.4% to 0.2%.

GamCare’s Alexa Roseblade stated that people “regularly” transition to “other forms of gambling” when they start young. At the same time, however, early exposure can also give parents – in this case, 62% of problem gambling parents – to warn of the hazards.

Lottery Sales on the Rise

Lottery products are the most common form of gambling. Since COVID-19, sales in the segment have increased globally. In the US, for example, the lottery market value is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5.96%, according to Technavio.

In the UK, lottery products and sports betting are the most popular options for gamblers. Gaming operators know this, and many are proactive in combatting problem gambling. The National Library of Medicine has generated reports that conclude that anything that stimulates a person can be addictive. Other studies have shown that it’s not gambling that is addictive, but the stimulation itself.

There will always be those in any consumer segment who become addicts, and this is true of the YouGov research, as well. However, just 27% of 14- and 15-year-olds who participated in the study said they had purchased scratch-offs with their families.

This amounts to only around 129 people, based on the numbers. Since UKGC studies put the gambling addiction rate at around 0.2%, less than three of those might develop an unhealthy relationship with scratch-offs.

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