Thousands of addicted students spend an average of £30 a week betting, going into debt and missing out on college life to fund their addiction.
In a survey of 2,000 college students, 80% said they gambled, with 35% of those who did admitting to using their student loan, bank overdraft, friend loan, or payday loan.
Of those players who did play, 41% said it caused them to miss lectures, deadlines, or social activities.
There are around 2.5 million students in the UK, suggesting that gambling causes hundreds of thousands to suffer financial or social harm.
Students said they spend an average of £31.52 on betting in a week, while almost 20% admitted to spending more than £50. They were asked how much they spend on gambling without distinguishing between deposits and losses.
The most popular product was the National Lottery (32%), including instant win casino-style smartphone games, followed by online sports betting (25%) and online bingo (18%).
The report, by youth gambling charity YGAM and Gamstop, the national tool for gamblers wanting to exclude themselves from online betting and gaming, builds on previous research which found 88,000 school students have a problem.
Martin Jones’ son, Josh, took his own life in 2015 after becoming addicted to gambling during his high school graduation and later encountering financial difficulties at university.
“He went into the hostel and within 10 days he had used up his first term loan, which was about £1,200,” Jones said.
Jones and his wife Kim ended up looking after their son’s finances while he studied mathematics at the University of Surrey.
Shortly after graduating from university, he got a job at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, but couldn’t break free from gambling addiction. He took his own life aged 23 after racking up £30,000 in debt.
Bray Ash, 29, who is studying nursing at King’s College London after previously studying at Leeds University, has also blasted his student loan.
“It took over my life — I wasn’t studying, I was just sitting in my hallway and playing,” he said.
“[During] In my sophomore year of college, I forfeited my student loan in the first 24 hours.
“It is important that students have access to organizations such as YGAM that provide education and support on gambling and that they are aware of basic tools such as self-exclusion if they are having problems with their gambling. I know it would have stood me in good stead when I was at my lowest point.”
A spokesman for the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) said that the majority of gambling among young people on scratch cards, the lottery and personal betting has taken place, not with BGC members.
“BGC also funds the £10m Gambling Prevention Program for Young People, run by leading charities YGAM and GamCare, which is delivered to all 11-19 year olds in the UK and those who work with them ‘ said a spokesman.