The City Law School’s Dr Margaret Carran to assist in evaluation of YGAM

Young Gamblers Education Trust (known as YGAM) are delighted to announce that we will be working with City, University of London to produce an independent evaluation on the effectiveness of the YGAM programme.

Aim of the project

The purpose of this proposed project is to carry out the evaluation of the potential effectiveness, benefits and drawbacks of the YGAM gambling-related harm prevention programme. The YGAM Train the Trainer programme is what is being evaluated within this project, there will be a separate evaluation project to review the YGAM Peer Education programme.

Dan Waugh, YGAM Chairman said 'It is critical to YGAM that we understand the extent to which our work addresses gambling-related harm (as part of a wider approach to harm minimisation).

Our immediate priority is to assess the effectiveness of our 'Train the Trainer' programme in raising awareness and understanding amongst teachers and youth workers of the risks of youth gambling. We have chosen to share the rationale, proposed methodology and tentative timeline for the YGAM research project. However, we are working with a leading academic researcher and partner university and as soon as this project have been given Ethic's clearance, the full research scope will be published. This research is wholly independent.'

Rationale

There is little doubt that the 21st century saw a widespread expansion of gambling opportunities across a variety of jurisdiction driven not only by the growth of online gaming but also by the progressive regulatory liberalisation of the gambling industries across the world1. The economic benefits of gambling make it very attractive for respective governments to position gambling as a normal forms of entertainment but it also creates a conflict between the legitimation of gambling and the need to protect the society as a whole, and the younger population in particular, from the potential adverse consequences of problem gambling.

Minors have been specifically singled out as being at a substantially higher risk of developing gambling-related problems that is the case with adults2. Those who suffer from problem gambling during their adulthood nearly always report to have started gambling early3 and it has also been recognised that "the younger the age of the gambling disorder, the greater the number of negative consequences and severity of later gambling problems"4. Accordingly, the vast majority of jurisdictions restricts minors' access to gambling by making it illegal for gambling providers to sell gambling product to or facilitate gambling by minors and/or by making gambling by minors illegal generally. However, those legal restrictions do not appear to successfully stop those minors who wish to gamble from doing so.

The latest Young People Omnibus 20155 reported that in UK 17% of children aged between 11-15 year olds spent their own money on a gambling activity in the week prior to the study with the figure rising to 30% when participation within a year prior to the study was included. Young adults, especially of male gender, have also been identified as being at a highest risk of developing gambling related problems with the latest Health Survey showing a substantially higher proportion of problem gamblers within the 16 to 24 age group than any other age category.

The perceived need to protect our younger generation from gambling related problems has led to a plethora of interest in developing and implementing harm prevention and educational programmes to be delivered within schools and in youth based organisations. School based gambling related harm prevention programmes typically do not aim to influence the regulatory framework or industry behaviour in the same manner as road safety programmes that are delivered in schools do not aim to influence drivers' behaviour. Instead, their primary objective typically is to instil awareness to help young people develop sufficient resilience in order to be less attracted to gambling during their minority and to enable them, once they reach adulthood, to gamble in a safe, non-problematic ways, if they wish to do so. Such initiatives are usually undertaken by charities and socially oriented organisations and substantial amounts of funds and efforts contribute to their developments and implementation.

The rationale of such programmes' existences draws its support from the inoculation theory, adaptation theory6 and from comparisons with the effectiveness of school based programmes on alcohol, drugs and sexual educations. However, their actual benefits, drawbacks and short-term, and long-term impact on minors remain unknown as such programmes are rarely evaluated in a methodical and rigorous manner. This project, accordingly, aims to fill in this gap by evaluating the programme that has been developed by YGAM.

The YGAM programme has been selected for evaluation for the following reasons. A very preliminary desk-based review of the programme suggests that the programme incorporates many of the aspects that have been identified within the literature as essential for effective interventions.

Those are:

  1. comprehensive coverage of material;
  2. inclusion of varied teaching methods;
  3. socio-cultural relevance and
  4. well-trained staff7.

The YGAM programme is also quality-assured by the UK PSHE Association and accredited by Ofqual approved, UK Awarding Body, ASDAN. This indicates a positive prospect in the context of the programmes' validity and effectiveness. The initiative teaches teachers and youth workers on how to deliver the preventative programme effectively via voluntary and paid for workshop and provision of bespoke materials thus also addressing concerns identified within the literature that professionals working with minors often feel less confident to help a pupil with a gambling problem than with for example with an alcohol problem8. The founders and trustees of the YGAM are happy for the evaluation to take place and are willing to facilitate its progress. Finally, the author of this proposal is confident that the trustees of the YGAM are comfortable with an independent evaluation of their programme and will not aim or try to influence the results in any way thus ensuring validity of the findings and the rigour of the process.

1 Julian Harris & John Hagan (eds), Gaming Law: Jurisdiction Comparisons (Thompson Reuters 2012)
2 E.g, G Meyer, T Hayer, M D Griffiths, Problem Gambling in Europe: Challenges, Prevention and Intervention: Extent and Preventative Efforts (Springer 2009)
3 David Forrest, Ian G McHale, 'Gambling and Problem Gambling Among Young Adolescents in Great Britain' (2012) 28(4) J Gambl Stud 607
4 Rina Gupta, Jeffrey L Derevensky, 'Reflection on Underage Gambling' (2014) 1(1) Responsible Gambling Review 37
5 Gambling Commission, 'The Prevalence of Underage Gambling: A research study among 11-15 year olds on behalf of the Gambling Commission" 2015 (November 2015)
6 Simon Planzer and Heather Wardle, 'The Comparative Effectiveness of Regulatory Approaches and the Impact of Advertising on Propensity for Problem Gambling' (RGF 2011)
7 Brittany Keen, Alex Blaszczynski & Fadi Anjoul, "Systematic review of empirically evaluated school-based gambling education programs", publication pending
8 Jeffrey L Derevensky, 'and others' 'Teacher Awareness and Attitudes Regarding Adolescent Risky Behaviours – Is Adolescent Gambling Perceived to be a Problem? (2014) 30(2) J Gambl Stud 435

Proposed Methodology

The evaluation would be undertaken in four stages.

Stage 1
Qualitative evaluation of teachers/youth workers' perceptions of the benefits/drawbacks of the programme.

Stage 2
Statistical assessment of the practical implementation of the programme within school settings

Stage 3
Qualitative evaluation of pupil's perceptions of the benefits / drawbacks of the programme

Stage 4
Quantitative evaluation of the programme's effectiveness on raising awareness and raising young people's resilience towards gambling attractiveness

Tentative Timeline

  Early September 2016 October 2016 Nov 2016 - Apr 2017 Apr 2017 - June 2017 Summer 2017 Post summer 2017
Formal approval by YGAM trustees for the project            
Formulation of survey questions (Stage 1 & 2)            
Ethical clearance for (Stage 1 & 2)            
Collection of data (during workshops) (Stage 1 & 2)            
Data analysis, evaluation and findings (Stage 1 & 2)            
Final report to YGAM and publication (Stage 1 & 2)            
Stage 3 and 4