Gambling among children in Wales is rife, researchers say, as they reveal almost half gambled in the past year.
Academics at Cardiff University found that 41 per cent of 11 to 16-year-olds in Wales had engaged in some form of gambling activity in the twelve months before the study.
Fruit machines in pubs and arcades were the most popular form of gambling. Scratchcards were one of the next most common.
Researcher Dr Graham Moore suggested while other risky behaviours such as smoking and drinking among teens were in decline, “gambling might be emerging as a new public health issue”.
He said: “The evidence shows that people who gamble earlier in life are more likely to become problem gamblers in adulthood.”
He added: “More work needs to be done, with policymakers, schools, families and young people, to understand how young people’s exposure to gambling can be reduced.”
More than 37,000 children in Wales answered the questions about their gambling habits in a survey in their schools.
Of those who said they had gambled in the past year, only 16 per cent said they felt bad about it.
Professor G.J. Melendez-Torres, the study’s lead author, said: “Our findings demonstrate the importance of educating young people and parents about the potential harms of gambling”.
He added that it was important for schools to raise awareness of gambling-related issues.