In a recent audit report published by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), the number of children with a gambling addiction has increased four times in the past two years. As per the report, the number of children between 11 to 16 years of age having compulsive gambling issues is approximately 55, 000.
The figures are alarming and have raised concerns amongst lawmakers. Earlier this year the gambling commission had restricted gambling advertisements on mediums where children are more likely to come across gambling adverts.
The report reveals that over 70,000 young children are at risk. It also estimates that 450,000 children indulge in gambling activities and place wagers more often. This is to say that one in every seven children between 11 to 16 years participates in gambling activities.
The audit report finds that the children bet an average of £16 per week on through various mediums including bingo, betting shops, online casinos amongst others. All these platforms are illegal for those under 18.
Expressing his concerns over rising gambling problems amongst children The Bishop of St Albans, the Right Reverend Alan Smith, said: “We need to start taking the dangers of gambling seriously – 55,000 children classed as problem gamblers is a generational scandal.”
The primary source of children seeing gambling advertisements is Television as revealed in the report. The TV sources account for over 70 percent of the gambling adverts seen by children.
Also, around one million teenagers and children were exposed to gambling through “loot boxes” in video games or smartphone apps.