A new report out this morning says that there are 55,000 problem gamblers aged between 11-16 in the UK and the numbers have quadrupled in the last two years.
The report from the Gambling Commission blames the proliferation on the rise of TV adverts and warns that another 70,000 children are at risk.
The most common gambling activities that children are engaging in are often outside of the Gambling Commission’s direct regulatory control, such as bets between friends, lottery scratch cards purchased by parents and playing of fruit machines in pubs.
Despite the increase in problem gambling rates the report found that only 19% of children said their parents had set strict rules about gambling.
Tim Miller, Executive Director at the Gambling Commission, said: “Protecting children from the harms that can come from gambling remains one of our highest priorities. In the areas we have regulatory control, we continue to strengthen the protections in place to prevent underage gambling, such as our recent proposals for enhanced age verifications checks for online gambling.”
“But regulation alone cannot address all of the risks that young people may face from gambling. Our latest research shows that the most common forms of gambling by children do not happen in gambling premises. Some of these are legal, such as bets between friends; some of these are unlawful, such as gambling on machines in pubs. But all of them present risks to young people as there is no form of gambling that is risk-free. It is therefore vital that all those with a part to play in protecting children and young people – parents, businesses and regulators – work together.”
Last week, the Commission called on the pubs industry to take urgent action following serious failures to stop children playing on 18+ gaming machines. In addition, in September 17 global gambling regulators teamed up with the Commission to work together to address the risks created by the blurring of lines between video games, social gaming and gambling. The Commission is also currently consulting on strengthening age verification processes.