Gambling operators may be placed under scrutiny following the results of a new survey conducted by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). The commission has issued a warning after a new study into underage gambling showed that 450,000 children are gambling in England and Wales every week.
The findings indicate that the youngsters are more likely to gamble rather than smoke or take drugs. ‘Young People and Gambling Report’ issued by the commission also stated that approximately 9,000 children are likely to be problem gamblers.
UKGC surveyed 2,411 children aged 11-15 from 103 state secondary schools in England and Wales to carry out the study. Some 16% of kids reported spending money on some form of gambling in the past week. In comparison, 5% of youth the same age said they have smoked, 8% reported they drank alcohol in the week prior to the survey and 6% have taken drugs in the recent month.
According to the UKGC, the percentage of smoking, alcohol drinking and drug-taking among youngsters has declined, while gambling has remained relatively static.
The survey also showed that boys (21%) were almost twice as likely to gamble compared to girls (11%). Further, 3% of those taking a part in the survey were using their own money to gamble, while 6% admitted they use their parents’ accounts, with or without permission. The survey found that the most popular forms of gambling among youngsters are betting shops and fruit machines.
Tim Miller, 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.”