Gambling, simply put, is staking (risking) money on a game of chance.


You are giving up your money on an outcome you cant guarantee in the hope of getting more back. The idea of winning free money is appealing, but you can often lose some or all of your money in the process and that is the danger. The legal age of nearly all forms of gambling is 18 to protect children from that danger. 

Gambling came to prominence in the UK legally around horse and dog racing tracks. However as more and more individuals began underground betting outside of their own the government made the decision to open up the country to bingo halls, casinos, and betting shops. The national lottery and scratch cards were later launched in the nineties. 

You will often hear someone use what are the odds, literally and metaphorically. The odds are the probability or likelihood of you winning. The higher the odds, the less probable you are to win. For many forms of gambling these are fixed (like rolling a dice) but for forms such as sports betting, the betting company will have staff working for them, seen as experts, to identify the odds they should offer to a customer.

Those games without fixed odds may sometimes involve skill, but all are susceptible to chance. 

Gambling is incredibly common in the UK. In 2019 47% of people had gambled in the past four weeks. That number remains at 32% when you take away the national lottery. Some will be regular players, some more occasional (just a scratch card or even a sweepstake at work or a trip to Bongos Bingo).


You might have arrived at university having never gambled in your life. Or you may already be a regular gambler. One of the best parts of university is making friends with people from all different walks of life with different backgrounds and different stories to your own.

47% of students have gambled in the past year, so it’s a pretty even split. And from our work last year asking students, you told us you gamble across many different forms. Lots of students we speak to look to top up their student loan with scratch cards or the lottery, but many will be betting online and going to casinos.

We know gambling is a part of student life for some, but its often engaged in with little experience or by those financially independent for the first time and mistakes can be made. Your students’ union may not allow gambling companies to promote on campus, but you wont be too far from a casino, betting shop, or lottery sale point. All this is before you even watch a sports fixture or look through the app store where gambling can be front and centre!

Most student gamblers aren’t at risk of it becoming a problem. You do it to win money and it doesn’t do much else for you and know the odds. 24% of student gamblers are at some risk however and we want to help you out as much as possible.

If you do already gamble, or begin at university, and receive your student loan don't be afraid to visit your universities student support team (or equivalent). They will have budgeting tools online or be able to help you in person. They won't judge you for being honest about your gambling spending either.


The beautiful game. We watch it in our tens of millions and football plays a big part at university. Universities have elite teams playing against each other - you may well have watched your team at varsity. Your university town or city will have its own team targeting students at new supporters. In fact its often a rite of passage to go to a football match at the stadium at least once. And you know when there's a big match on as its loud and busy in your local student bar.

You might not be old enough to remember when Liverpool and Newcastle had Carlsberg and Newcastle Brown Ale donned across their shirts. But over the last twenty years football has separated itself from alcohol advertising. Gambling firms have been the benefactors. Last season 50% of teams had a gambling company as their shirt sponsor, 71% in the championship.

On any episode of Match of the Day gambling branding appeared on screen between 71 and 89% of the shows running time. During the 2018 world cup there was enough gambling advertising to fill its own 90min football match. If you gamble on football, even infrequently, it’s easy to see how the amount of time or money you spend betting can increase with such exposure.

There’s now a ban on advertising between the start and end of a match, but notifications on your phone will still be coming through with live betting. It may be worth considering turning those notifications off to avoid temptation, especially for impulsive in game betting whilst the match is on!

If you’re going to regularly bet on football its good to set limits and stick to these. If you have friends who do the same support each other in sticking to these if you’re not good at taking your own advice.




The majority of students who gamble will generally ensure it doesn't cause their education problems. But our research shows 24% are at some risk of their gambling becoming a problem - and 8% are already problem gamblers.

By problem gambling we mean that the gambling behaviour is having a negative impact on your studies, your job, relationships with others, or your health. 

From our research we know that students defined as problem gamblers or at high risk are more likely to gamble to give them something to do (22%). We also know problem gamblers are most likely to do it because it cheers them up (23%) and to get a buzz (28%). 

Every individual is different. These don’t apply to all problem gamblers and no matter what your motivations to gamble if you feel it is negatively impacting your studies and wellbeing its important to speak up. 56% of students at high risk or already problem gambling are seriously considering withdrawing from university and we don’t want it to get that far.

Our short form of the Problem Gambling Severity Index will help identify where you may sit on the scale, but is not a definitive judgement on your gambling due to its simplicity.

If you are worried about yourself or someone else take a look at our support pages for options both inside and outside of university. You aren’t alone and we’re working to train staff in higher education specifically on this issue so you can feel more empowered to discuss gambling and the impact its having on you. If you’re worried about a friend you can read up on these also and build them into conversation.

In October we will be launching our Mates Rates campaign and tool so any student can help upskill themselves on talking to their friends about gambling. So if you’re worried about a friend check back in October to see how you can start that conversation.


Sign up to our YGAM for Students membership. You will be the first to receive monthly updates on gaming and gambling news relevant to students, the release of our new campaigns and activities, and see how your university is performing compared to others.