The Gambling Commission has warned the betting industry that its advertising is putting young people at serious risk of addiction.
A new report reveals that the number of children classed as ‘problem gamblers’ has quadrupled in the past two years.
Since 2005, The Christian Institute has warned that: “Lifting restrictions on advertising will undoubtedly encourage gambling. That is its whole purpose. Whilst the Government proposes a new offence of inviting children to gamble, many in the industry acknowledge the obvious – much of the advertising media cannot distinguish between adults and minors.”
The research uncovered that some 450,000 schoolchildren in the UK bet away £16 of their pocket money every week.
Tim Miller, head of The Gambling Commission, said: “There’s no doubt that today’s figures on children and gambling should make people sit up and listen.”
Yesterday Liz Ritchie, whose son ended his own life at the age of 24, spoke about his early gambling addiction.
“It was because of deregulation that these machines came on the High Street so that Jack and his friends were able to gamble in their lunch hour.”
She has also blamed advertising for normalising gambling among young people and has urged the Government to ban it.
The Christian Institute spoke against deregulation in 2005 saying: “The scale of the proposed deregulation is truly breathtaking. It will turn Britain into one of the gambling capitals of the world, heralding a proliferation of addictive slot machines and betting shops, and casinos of a size never seen before in Britain.”
This month, Sky became the first broadcaster to announce voluntary limits on gambling advertising.
This week the Remote Gambling Association which includes Bet365, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill met to discuss a complete ban on pre-watershed advertising.
A Daily Mail editorial, said, “let us hope these multimillion-pound companies act. It would be criminally irresponsible to play roulette – risking crippling gambling addiction, debt and family breakdown – with young lives”.