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The increase of students betting on their future – is there a gambling culture within universities?

University Mental Health Day – 9th March 2023

We all know someone who likes a bet. We probably all know someone who likes a bet more than they should, to the point it’s obvious that it’s gone beyond enjoyment.

Gambling is a popular leisure activity among young people, and unfortunately, it is also a significant source of harm, especially for university students. In recent years, gambling has become more accessible than ever, with online platforms, mobile apps, and social media games providing an easy avenue to gamble. Ease of access has increased gambling-related harm, and universities are not immune to this trend.

Gambling harm in universities can manifest in different forms, including financial, social, and psychological. Financial harm can occur when students spend more money than they can afford on gambling, leading to debt, unpaid bills, and financial instability, affecting their academic performance, mental health, and overall wellbeing.

On the other hand, social harm can manifest in strained relationships, social isolation, and stigmatisation. Students who gamble excessively may find it challenging to maintain meaningful social connections, leading to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Gambling harm can also have a profound psychological impact on students, leading to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and addiction.

One of the reasons why gambling harm is prevalent among university students is the prevalence of risk-taking behaviour. Young adults are often more prone to taking risks, and gambling provides an avenue for this behaviour. Gambling is also seen as a means to socialise and have fun with peers, which can normalise the behaviour. The lack of proper education and awareness about gambling harm can lead students to overlook the risks and consequences of their actions.

Another contributing factor to gambling harm in universities is the availability and accessibility of gambling activities. Online gambling has become increasingly popular in recent years, with mobile apps and social media platforms providing easy access to gambling activities. This can make it difficult for students to avoid gambling, especially when stressed or seeking to escape academic pressures.

To address the issue of gambling harm in universities, there needs to be a multi-faceted approach that involves different stakeholders, including students, universities, and policymakers.

At EPIC, we pride ourselves on the impactful gambling harm prevention work we do within the secondary school space. However, a significant percentage of our 25 lived experience staff began their gambling journey at university, leading to devastating rock bottoms further down the line, so I firmly believe that universities must increase their awareness and understanding of gambling harm and provide appropriate support services for affected students, including counselling services, financial advice, and support groups for affected students.

Additionally, universities can promote responsible gambling behaviour through education and awareness-raising campaigns and partnerships, such as workshops and seminars, and by providing information on safe gambling practices.

Students need to be aware of the potential harm associated with gambling and take steps to protect themselves. This can include setting a budget for gambling activities, avoiding gambling when under stress, and seeking help if they feel their gambling behaviour is becoming problematic. Additionally, students can participate in awareness-raising campaigns and support groups to help spread the message about responsible gambling behaviour.

In conclusion, gambling harm is a significant issue among university students, and it can manifest in different forms, including financial, social, and psychological harm. To address this issue, there needs to be a multi-faceted approach that involves universities, policymakers, and students themselves. By increasing awareness and understanding of gambling harm, promoting responsible gambling behaviour, and providing appropriate support services, we can help prevent gambling harm and ensure that young people can enjoy leisure activities without risking their wellbeing.

Paul Findlay MBE

Director of CSR, EPIC Risk Management

If you are a university student (or know of others on campus) that are currently affected by problem gambling issues, please click here to visit our Support page for advice on places to turn in times of need.

Universities wishing to discuss the needs of their students with regard to gambling harm prevention programmes are welcome to contact Paul directly via

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