UK Gambling Commission Issues Warning Over Underage Gambling

Underage Gambling
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  • A study by the UK Gambling Commission reveals 450,000 children aged between 11-15 years old gamble each week.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued a warning to parents and guardians following a report into you people and gambling which shows 450,000 children from England and Wales participate in gambling every week.

Findings of the You People and Gambling 2016 report, which you can read in full here, indicate the overall gambling rate among 11-15 year-olds is approximately 16% and that studies suggest around 9,000 of the 450,000 underage gamblers are likely to develop a gambling problem.

The most popular form of gambling among 11-15 year olds asked for the study is via fruit machines (5%) with playing cards for money with friends (4%) and National Lottery scratchcards (4%) also being popular methods of gambling. Internet poker was only played by 1% of the 2,411 children questioned.

Worryingly, 8% of those 11-15 year olds participating in the study has gambled on commercial premises in the past week, such as bingo halls, betting shops and arcades, despite the UKGC having strict codes of conduct and underage gambling prevention methods for gambling licence holders.

Some of the key facts from the study include:

  • Boys (21%) are almost twice as likely to gamble than girls (11%)
  • 24% of the underage gamblers did so for the first time to try and make money with 23% stating they thought gambling would be fun or entertaining.
  • 73% if those playing online gambling-style games (where no money can be won) did so via their smartphone or tablet.
  • 40% of those studied had seen a gambling advertisement on TV more than once per week.
  • 71% use social media but do not follow gambling companies.
  • 1% said seeing gambling adverts prompted them to gamble for the first time with 1% stating the adverts prompted them to increase the amount they gambled.
  • 84% of those who bought National Lottery scratchcards were with a parent or guardian when making the purchase.

Tim Miller, the Gambling Commission executive director, 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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