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Brief Published: 28 Nov 2018

The Surprising Vice of Gen Sensible: Gambling


A new report from the Gambling Commission has revealed that 450,000 or 14% of 11- to 16-year-olds in the UK gamble regularly, ahead of the 13% who drink alcohol, 4% who smoke cigarettes and 2% who take illegal drugs (Gambling Commission, 2018).

The study also considers where children are exposed to gambling advertisements, with 66% reporting seeing such content on TV and 59% on social media.

A notable inclusion in the Gambling Commission's report was that 31% of 11- to 16-year-olds surveyed admitted to opening virtual loot boxes on gaming platforms using real or game currency (Gambling Commission, 2018).

Loot boxes unlock in-game functions on online gaming platforms. Although the content is often randomised, the Gambling Commission does not consider them to be a licensable gambling activity since in-game items cannot be cashed out for money. However, other jurisdictions have taken a harsher stance – both the Netherlands and Belgium have defined some loot boxes as gambling, making them subject to licensing. The Netherlands Gaming Authority noted in its findings that loot boxes "could be addictive", while the Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens commented that "mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for mental health".

Gen Z consumers hold $44bn in spending power and are in need of innovative financial services to help them learn about and manage their financial futures (Cassandra, 2018).

Fintech companies that cater to Gen Z's needs are already addressing the demographic's concerns around gambling. A good example of this is Monzo's bank account for 16- to 18-year-olds (recently reported on by Stylus), which blocks payments on websites prohibited for people under 18. Banks and transactional platforms would be wise to follow Monzo's lead in fostering good economic practices within this cohort. For more on The Future of Money, see our latest Spotlight Trend.