UKGC survey: 450,000 children gamble every week
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued a warning after a new study showed that 450,000 children are gambling in England and Wales each week.
The national regulatory body’s ‘Young People and Gambling Report’ also said that approximately 9,000 children are likely to be problem gamblers.
The overall rate of gambling among 11 to 15-year-olds is around 16%, compared to 5% of youngsters in the same age range who have smoked, 8% that drank alcohol in the last week and 6% who have taken drugs in the last month.
The UKGC added that while rates of smoking, drinking alcohol and drug-taking among minors has declined, gambling has remained relatively static.
The report also showed that boys (21%) were twice as likely to gamble compared to girls (11%).
Fruit machines, private bets with friends and National Lottery scratchcards were the most popular forms of gambling, while 8% of 11 to 15-year-olds said they had gambled on a commercial premises – such as betting shops and bingo halls – in the week prior to the survey.
Other key findings include 3% of 11 to 15-year-olds using their own money on online gambling, while 6% admitted to using their parents’ accounts, with or without permission.
Tim Miller, executive director of the UKGC, said “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.
“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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