Approximately 450,000 children in England and Wales are now gambling every week, according to a report from the Gambling Commission, with around 9,000 of them likely to be problem gamblers.
The overall rate of gambling among 11 to 15-year-olds is around 16 per cent, compared to 8 per cent who had drunk alcohol in the last week and 6 per cent who had taken drugs in the last month. Three quarters of this age group reported seeing gambling adverts on TV, while more than 60 per cent had seen them on social media. Gambling in the past week was twice as prevalent among boys (21 per cent) as among girls (11 per cent).
Among the most popular forms of gambling were fruit machines or scratch cards, although 8 per cent had gambled in a commercial premises in the last week, including betting shops and arcades.
It was important that parents speak to their children about the risks associated with gambling, said Gambling Commission executive director Tim Miller.
‘We’re often reminded to discuss the risks of drinking, drugs and smoking with our children. 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.’
Young people and gambling 2016: a research study among 11 to 15-year-olds in England and Wales at www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk