Tens of thousands of 12 to 15-year-olds in Britain are becoming problem gamblers, a charity that works with gambling addicts has warned.
At the time of the Gambling Act 2005, which liberalised gambling laws, The Christian Institute and others warned the legislation would lead to an increase in problem gambling.
Now, GamCare, a charity which gives help, advice and treatment to problem gamblers, has released a report calling for children to be taught about the dangers of gambling.
In its report GamCare says that only 5 per cent of parents would stop their child from gambling.
The charity’s report notes research which says 60,000 children between the ages of 12 and 15 in Britain are compulsive gamblers.
And it says the rate of adolescent addicts is over three times as high as adult addicts.
The report quotes a journal article which says only 5 per cent of parents would attempt to stop their child from gambling while over 60 per cent would impose restrictions on alcohol use.
It also says young problem gamblers are more likely to be involved in alcohol and substance abuse, theft, truancy and do less well at school.
Jane Rigbye, head of education development at GamCare, said: “Gambling is all around us. It is advertised on television, children are accessing internet bingo sites and internet poker sites. They have found ways of lying about their age to access these sites”.
“Educating young people about the risks of gambling is vital”, Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science said.
He also commented that students at University were vulnerable: “If, before they arrive at university, they are equipped with an awareness of the risks and the strategies to stay in control, they’ll be able to make wiser decisions.”
In 2005 The Christian Institute released a publication, Gambling with our future, which examined the proposals in the Labour Government’s Gambling Bill.
The publication warned that under the proposals: “Gambling advertising will appear everywhere from street corners to television and gambling in a casino will become as easy as playing the National Lottery.”
It also said: “Gambling is highly addictive, harming not only the gambler but also many more through poverty, crime, family breakdown, suicide and lost time at work.”
“The evidence overwhelmingly shows that removing the restrictions on gambling will inevitably increase the number of problem gamblers”, it commented.
The Gambling Commission, which was established as part of the Gambling Act 2005 to regulate the industry, has previously been criticised for its ‘softly, softly approach’.