Report Highlights Youth Gambling Fears

Children are much more likely to gamble than drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or take drugs, according to a newly published survey.

The Young People and Gambling report claims that almost half a million eleven to 15-year-olds take part in the activity each week – and about 9,000 are considered to have a gambling problem.

Twice as many young people in the age group sampled had gambled in the last week (16%) as had drunk alcohol (8%). Just 6% said they had taken drugs, while one in 20 (5%) had smoked.

Although the other three “vices” have all been decreasing over recent years, the number of children gambling is thought to have remained steady.

Fruit machines, bets with friends and scratch cards are the most common methods, while boys are around twice as likely as girls to gamble.

The report’s authors, the Gambling Commission, are warning parents to look out for the warning signs that their children are gambling.

“We’re often reminded to discuss the risks of drinking, drugs and smoking with our children,” said Gambling Commission executive director Tim Miller. “However our research shows that children are twice as likely to gamble than do any of those things.

“We want to reassure parents that our rules require gambling businesses to prevent and tackle underage gambling and we take firm action where young people are not properly protected.

“We recognise that there are some gambling activities in which young people are legally permitted to partake – such as using a crane machine to win a toy or betting between friends.

“But we would encourage parents to speak to their children about the risks associated with gambling so that if they choose to gamble in adulthood they will do so in a safe and responsible way.”

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