The latest report from the Gambling Commission has indicated that as many as 450,000 children gamble in Wales and England every week, and this has led to warnings to parents and guardians over increased vigilance with the news that up to 9,000 of these children could have a serious problem.
The Young People and Gambling Report shows that there is a 16% rate of gambling in the 11 to 15 year old age group. These figures seem very high, especially when compared to the 5% of children within the same age band who have tried smoking, the 8% who have drank alcohol over the previous week and the 6% who have tried drugs over the past month. While parents are frequently reminded of the necessity of discussing the risks associated with smoking, drink and drugs with their children, gambling is often overlooked, and yet it appears that young people are much more likely to gamble than to try any illegal substances.
The Gambling Commission director issued a statement on the back of this report stating that their rules and regulations demand that gambling businesses in the UK take measures to tackle and prevent any underage gambling, and that they would take strong action in the event that young people have been found to be poorly protected. He also encouraged parents to talk frankly to their children about the dangers of gambling and the importance of encouraging a responsible and safe approach in the future.
Some of the report’s findings include:
· While gambling has remained at a steady rate among 11 to 15 year olds, the amount of young people taking drugs, smoking and drinking alcohol has declined
· 0.4% of 12 to 15 year olds are classified as having a gambling problem
· Almost twice as many boys than girls gambled in the week before the study (21% as opposed to 11%)
· Three quarters of young people have watched adverts for gambling products on the television, with 63% having seen similar adverts on social media
· 60% of 11 to 15 year olds believe gambling to be dangerous
· Fruit machines are the most popular way to gamble, followed by placing private bets with a friend and using National Lottery scratch cards
· 8% of those in the 11-15 age band had gambled in a betting shop, bingo hall, arcade or other commercial premises during the previous week
· Among children who bet on the National Lottery, their scratch cards or tickets were usually bought by their parent or guardian
· 3% of young people have gambled online with their own money
· 6% of 11 to 15 year olds have previously gambled online, sometimes without permission, using their parent’s account