A third of gambling websites are failing to prevent children from using them to place bets, according to a Government watchdog.
The Gambling Commission obtained the figure after ‘mystery shoppers’ used debit cards belonging to under-18s to access the sites.
They found that one in three of the sites had weaknesses which could allow children to use them.
Under the Gambling Act 2007, Britain’s 250 gambling websites are required to have stringent systems to root out underage gamblers.
A report for the Gambling Commission last year showed that between five and seven per cent of young people are already classified as having gambling problems, while up to 14 per cent are at risk of developing them.
As many as nine in ten young people have experienced gambling at some point in their lives, the report said.
Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster, whose parliamentary question prompted the Government to reveal the figures, said: “There is a massive danger that this will fuel a huge increase in under-age gambling addiction.”
Gambling addiction expert Dr Emanuel Moran said: “It is obvious that the safeguards put in place by the Government, and the statements made about responsible gambling in relation to the internet, are totally bogus.
“We are in danger of allowing a generation of children to become addicted to gambling.”