Saturday, December 15The Voice of London

The stakes have risen: Number of children gambling doubles

The number of children, gambling has doubled in the past year.

In a report published by the gambling commission, 55,000 children aged between 11 and 16 are addicted to betting. This figure is up from 25,000 last year.

The Times reported that more children have placed bets in the past week than consumed alcohol, smoked or took drugs. Fruit machines, in betting shops and online are all illegal for under 18s, but the internet is where children spend an average of £16 a week.

“Younger generations are growing up quicker,” 18-year-old Tom Huianu told Voice of London. Recently graduated from Rutlish School, Huianu explained how a culture of gambling at his school started young, with playground games like ‘penny up,’ where winners would flick coins and win small sums of money.

Mike Dixon, CEO of public health charity Addaction told Voice of London, “This is another big wake up call. We need to act now before a new generation gets into serious trouble with gambling.”

A further 70,000 are at risk of getting hooked as they are becoming increasingly exposed to gambling advertisements on the internet and on television. 

Dixon expressed frustration at the lack of educating children receive about the dangers of gambling addiction. He told Voice of London, “Right now it’s too hard for young people to get help. We need a proper levy on gambling industry profits to pay for targeted support for young people and better education.”

Dixon noted how some simple changes within the gambling industry would make a big difference to these numbers. “Gambling companies shouldn’t take credit card payments or target young people with in-play gambling and irresponsible advertising. And we all need to get better at talking about how gambling can take over people’s lives.”

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Words: Fiona Patterson

Subbing: Sorcha Gilheany

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