A study by the UK Gambling Commission released this week reveals that the number of child problem gamblers is on the rise, hitting 55,000 over the past two years for those aged 11-16.
The study shows that there are 55,000 addicted children gamblers in the age range 11 to 16, with 70,000 more at risk. The study also revealed that one in seven children in the UK bet regularly, which amounts to 450,000 kids. Children reportedly spend an average of £16 per week gambling on different verticals, including bingo, sports, and online casino games, all of which are illegal for juveniles.
Advertising may be having a serious impact on these numbers, as 2 out of 3 of respondents telling the study that they've seen gambling ads on television. The numbers are striking, as it appears that more children are gambling than doing drugs or drinking alcohol.
The issue was quickly seized upon by the Bishop of St Albans, Reverend Alan Smith, who said: "Today's findings by the Gambling Commission make worrying reading and serve as a warning to parents. After years of progress, it seems the rates of children gambling are creeping back up. These figures suggest 450,000 11- to 16-year-olds have gambled in the past week - that is deeply concerning. We need to start taking the dangers of gambling seriously."
"However much the gambling industry says it is not targeting the young, it is clear that a significant minority of teenagers are still being drawn into gambling and it is no coincidence that one in six children have seen gambling adverts on social media. In-game gambling and loot-boxes are a new phenomenon and so require new answers. The world has changed since 2005 when the gambling sector was deregulated and so, sadly, has gambling.
"Therefore, government, local authorities, schools, the private and the charitable sector need to study these findings carefully and put in place preventative measures to safeguard young people."