The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has published new research that suggests children are experiencing gambling in situations where the risks are not always explained.
The reports shows that new technology provides children in the UK with the opportunity to experience gambling behaviours via products such as free-to-play casino games, social media or within some computer games.
The UKGC said that these methods do not have the same level of protections or responsible gambling messages as regulated products, thus raising questions over the long-term impact for children.
In addition, the UKGC found that the most common forms of gambling amongst children, such as bets between friends and playing fruit machines, are happening in locations that do not need to be regulated to provide gambling.
Figures show 12% of children aged between 11 and 16 spent their own money on gambling in the past week, compared to 16% who had drunk alcohol, 5% who smoked cigarettes and 3% who used drugs.
Around 11% of 11 to 16-year-olds played free gambling-style social games via the internet in the past week, while 11% also bet using in-game items when playing computer or app-based games
For those that did gamble using real-money, they spent an average of £10.
In addition, 80% of children reported seeing gambling adverts on television, while 70% saw ads on social media and 66% on other websites.
Tim Miller, executive director of the UKGC, said “We require gambling operators to have strong protections in place to prevent children from accessing their products and are actively reviewing how some, like age verification, can continue to be strengthened.
“However, it is clear that many children’s experiences of gambling-style activities are coming from the playground, the games console or social media rather than the bookmaker, the casino or the gambling website.
“That’s why it is essential that we work across industries and with parents so that together we can protect children and encourage those that choose to gamble in adulthood to do so safely.”
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