The Government has been advised to crack down on gambling adverts amid fears young people will be lured into gambling during the football World Cup.
Columnist Dominic Lawson, writing for the Daily Mail, said the Government’s recent decision to cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2 was good, but did not go far enough to tackle problem gambling.
He urged Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to “act against the saturation of our country with gambling ads”, which he said “are grooming our children into addiction”.
Lawson said that the only outcome of the World Cup that could be predicted with absolute certainty “is that the betting companies will clean up”.
He explained that gambling firms would profit “because this month-long festival of football is a golden opportunity for them to target and hook the nation’s youth via a bombardment of television advertising”.
Gambling adverts are banned on television before the 9pm watershed, except for bingo or during live sporting events.
Lawson also highlighted the case of a 13-year-old boy who used his father’s credit card details to gamble away £80,000 after becoming hooked.
The boy had recently been to Wembley stadium, where he was exposed to numerous gambling adverts.
He said: “I figured I’d give it a go. It seemed fun and easy.”
He was able to register online in just seconds by entering his father’s personal details and ticking a box to say he was 18.
After an initial win, he was soon making hundreds of bets a week on football matches and horses, betting as much as £3,000 a time.
He said: “I had no idea that gambling could be an addiction like smoking, drinking or drugs. It seemed like fun and I thought I would make money too.”
He initially lost £20,000 before the bank contacted his father, and his parents sent him for treatment.
However, after five months free from gambling, he was drawn back in: “It was like this monster in my head calling me to go back.”
He stole a credit card from his father’s wallet and lost a further £60,000 in just one week.