High street bookmakers allow under-age gambling on addictive betting machines

High street betting shops are allowing children to gamble unchallenged, a newspaper investigation has revealed.

The Daily Mail found William Hill, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes all allowed under-age gambling on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), known as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.

It follows a report revealing that 450,000 children were gambling regularly.


The investigation included Newham, one of London’s poorest boroughs, which has around 80 bookmakers.

Tom, 17, lost around £120 during his visits to the betting shops on one day, and was only occasionally asked for ID. In one instance staff allowed him to play on after he claimed he had left his ID at home.

Tom said he initially “struggled to understand” the appeal of FOBTs.

But as he began to win, he said: “I started to become increasingly reckless, betting more and more and, crucially, continuing to bet after I had repeatedly lost. That’s when I understood why people become addicted”.

‘Stronger action’

The Government have agreed to cut the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 from April 2019, but it is argued that more needs to be done to prevent access by children.

Liz and Charles Ritchie’s son Jack began gambling under-age and took his own life as a result of FOBT addiction.

The co-founders of charity, Gambling With Lives, said: “Much stronger action is required to end illegal under-age gambling”.

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