YouGov: Are we raising a generation of helpless gamblers?

YouGov’s Charlie Dundas assesses the gambling habits of younger bettors compared with the older generation

With plenty of conversation in 2019 focused on young people and betting, we thought it would be interesting to look at the demographics of UK gamblers.

Our data shows that the gambling activity most likely to be undertaken by younger people (18 to 24-year-olds) is the purchase of scratchcards. Nearly one in five (19.1%) of this group has bought one in the past 12 months.

The next most popular gambling activity for younger people is the purchase of a Lotto ticket. Around one in six (15.8%) of this group has bought a ticket in the past year.

The third most popular gambling activity for 18 to 24-year-olds is placing an online bet with a bookmaker, with around one in eight (12.3%) doing so. In addition, 6.5% of this age group have placed a bet at a high-street bookmaker over this period, but, of course, some people will have done both.

So, where does this data leave us? Are we raising a generation of helpless gamblers? Or are younger people simply behaving in the same way as previous generations?


Well, younger people are more likely to have been to a bingo club, to have visited a casino or to have played a game or slots on a gambling site/app than the national average. In fact, in a five-way age split, 18 to 24-year-olds are the most likely of all groups (along with 25 to 34-year-olds) to have visited a casino (6.2% of them have done so).

Mind the gap

But other types of gambling are much less popular with younger people. Many of these forms of betting conform to a bell-curve trend – they become more popular with people as they get older and then become less popular when people reach our oldest category (over 55s).

This is true for a range of gambling, including buying a Lotto or EuroMillions ticket – where older people are up to four times as likely to have bought a ticket in the past year as our youngest category. The same also applies to the most popular form of gambling among our 18 to 24-year-old age group – buying a scratchcard, although not to such an exaggerated degree.

Likewise for placing a bet with bookmakers online and offline. For placing an online bet, the only age group less likely to do so than our youngsters are those aged 55+ (12.3% versus 7.4%). For placing a bet with a high-street bookmaker, no age group is less likely to do so than our 18 to 24-year-olds. In fact, some older age groups are twice as likely to visit a betting shop than our youngest category.

As we mentioned before, an exception to the bell-curve rule is going to a casino. In this case, we have a straightforward downward slope. The older you are, the less likely you are to sit at the tables. Similarly, but not identically, the popularity of playing online games like slots and roulette peaks earlier, with older people much less likely to play.

But here’s the kicker: overall, younger people are much more likely than the average not to have gambled at all in the past year. The data tells us that only 31.5% of the general population have not gambled in 2019, compared with 52.2% for 18 to 24-year-olds. Young people are the least likely to have engaged in seven of the 13 types of gambling that we ask people about. In a further three, they are either at, or within 1% of, the national average.

So, contrary to the notion that the UK has bred a generation of younger gamblers, the data suggests that the opposite is true. Gambling is much more popular among older people.

Charlie Dundas is commercial director at YouGov Sport, the sports and entertainment division of global research and insight agency, YouGov. YouGov Sport tracks the public’s perceptions of sports events, leagues, teams and athletes in markets across the world on a daily basis.

Data | YouGov | YouGov Sport