The life of the average university student involves bulk-buying groceries, stacking up on meal deals and hunting for student discounts. Budgeting has become an essential skill in the repertoire of students all over the nation as they work to confront the realities of paying their expenses. After a pandemic-ridden year and an increased cost of living, there is no question as to why some students have turned to gambling to earn profit.
Student gambling addicts spend around £30 a week on betting, amounting to over £1,600 a year. Many borrow money to fund the habit, with nearly 10% of UK students betting with their student loans. Both the short-term and long-term effects of compulsive gambling leave students in a state of disarray, as many report having severely worsened mental health. What’s more, the impact that compulsive gambling has on one’s academic performance can not be overstated, with students missing assignment deadlines, social activities and lectures. In fact, a recent survey by The Gambling Commission claims that 1/8 of student gamblers have missed lectures due to gambling.
As a result, students must be given the opportunity to engage in conversations about gambling and addiction. Furthermore, the historical lack of support from universities has been worrying. To combat this, three organisations have joined forces to raise awareness and promote the support that is available to students. The Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), an award-winning leading education charity, has collaborated with GAMSTOP, the national online self-exclusion scheme, and RecoverMe, a mobile health application designed to help those who suffer from a gambling addiction, to embark on ‘The Gambling Support University Tour’.
The tour follows the publication of a new survey of 2,000 students, commissioned by YGAM and GAMSTOP, which revealed 80% of students have gambled, and of them, 41% admit that gambling has had a negative impact on their university experience.
The initiative will see the three organisations visit university campuses throughout the UK to speak to students and university staff about the issue of gambling-related harms and, importantly, the training and support services they provide. During a visit to a university, the group will have a visible presence on campus to distribute information leaflets and engage with students. YGAM will also provide free harm prevention training to university staff, student union officers and safeguarding leads. The training and resources will equip them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to identify signs of gambling-related harm and signpost students who may struggle.
Jimmy Parkin, University and Student Engagement at YGAM said, “Students are a key group for us, and the recent survey findings reiterate the importance of educating our young adults on the risks and harms associated with gambling. This university tour is the first of its kind. We hope by collaborating with GAMSTOP and RecoverMe, we can utilise our knowledge and services to ensure students have access to the information, resources and support they need to enjoy a university experience free from gambling-related harms.”
In an era when ads for betting companies can be seen on TV, billboards and plastered on the front of football shirts, it is easier to fall victim to compulsive gambling now than ever before. Gambling addicts fall victim to a sort of feedback loop not found in other addictions, where doing more of the original harmful activity can be seen as a practical solution to the problems it caused in the first place. The Gambling Support University Tour allows for an opportunity to break this cycle of instability and pain, with university students at the centre of the initiative.