Underage Gambling Addicts Grow in UK

This story was published more than 5 years ago.

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."

About the author

Therese Williams // UK Correspondent
Therese Williams
Therese is a fervent fan of slot machines and pub fruities, often trying her luck at some of the top online casinos. She covers news for Casino Listings with a focus on the UK and Europe. Therese studied arts and creative writing at university and has written for newspapers in the UK.
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sharpe's picture
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21 November 2018 - 8:26pm

Well, I'm gambling all the way since my early teens in the 90's when there wasn't almost any TV gambling advertising's here so I don't think it's just the TV commercials fault of so many teenagers being active gamblers in UK nowadays.
Maybe the authorities should think of a way to prevent those kids from gambling instead of just banning the gambling adds further..well at least I think so.

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22 November 2018 - 5:28am

In my school days, there were some dozens of friends doing some card games, coin games for money during breaks between classes. Actually, many of them just did it in the classroom, and they moved somewhere else in school, when other friends complained about the noises they made...

Anyway, it was like that here....and we didn't really think that it was big problems...

And just the other day, there was an eye-broadening case for me....

Probabaly CL-Ed, Klaw knows, there was a soccer match Korea vs. Australia, which was held in Australia 🙂

And the game was a tie with a last-minute goal of Australian player during the extended time, well thanks to home advantage by the referee... This is another story 🙂

Anyway, while watching the game, I was very surprised to see the Bet365 advertisement in the long main advertisement panel. Wow, I was actually amused to see the brand.

But, after reading this news, that kind of advertisement can be a trigger for young ones to begin gambling...

Just a thought....

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22 November 2018 - 5:44am

I saw the game and I agree I was shocked they gave that goal. The referee was not Australian though.

There has been a lot of debate about betting sponsorship in sports here in Australia, and it is similar to the UK. Gambling companies are not allowed to advertise on TV or radio until late at night when children are supposed to be in bed. However the exception is during sporting events which makes the law useless as you can see the ads during and at the game. Also you cannot watch a match without having someone talk about the odds of the game in any ad break. Unfortunately so many sports and clubs are now dependant on these companies for sponsorship money and the bookies are willing to pay more than the traditional businesses that used to be involved in sport. I think the only thing that will stop it is laws like we brought in to ban cigarette company sponsorship and advertising.

I think that has to have an effect on kids watching. But even more so I think is that so many video games these days have gambling elements like "loot boxes" where players pay money or credits to get a random item or perk in game. Many of the games are free and only make money from players spending on this optional stuff, but it would appear that they make at least as much money as the old days when they used to sell games for a single price. Lots of kids would be thinking that is just a normal part of gaming now. I don't know whether that leads to increased gambling at casinos when they are older but it would not be surprising if it did. More research is needed I guess.

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22 November 2018 - 6:05am
CL-Ed wrote:

Lots of kids would be thinking that is just a normal part of gaming now.

Yeah, this is the point. When I played some mobile games, I just played the Loot Box features without thinking on probabilities. And only recently, I realized that it was a kind of gambling, after reading an article.

There has to be serious consideration and actions on this issue, as you said.