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Children with gambling problems have doubled in two years

While children in the past may have spent their free time reading books or playing board games, children in the present are increasingly turning to gambling.

Such, anyway, is the case according to the Gambling Commission, which has released a report on gambling trends among 11-16-year-olds.

The report (which can be found here) contains the following findings:

  • 14% of 11-16 year olds (equivalent to 450,000 children) have spent their own money on gambling in the previous week, and 39% over the last 12 months.
  • 1.7% of 11-16-year-olds are problem gamblers and 2.2% are 'at risk'.
  • The most common past week gambling activities have included private bets (6%), Scratchcards (4%) and fruit/slot machines (3%).
  • 6% have gambled online using a parent's account (with or without permission).
  • While 60% of those children asked believed their parents would 'prefer them not to gamble' (itself a shocking figure), only 19% of parents set out strict rules on gambling.

These findings come from a survey conducted by the Gambling Commision between February-July this year with 2,865 11-16-year-old participants from across Britain.

Read more on gambling here: Inside the mind of a twenty-year-old compulsive gambler.

The news—which has surfaced on the same day as Britain's new 'best-paid boss' has been announced as the co-founder of online gambling firm Bet365—has led some to argue that gambling advertisements should be banned from appearing on the TV until after a 'watershed' hour so as to prevent young children from being tempted to try out this activity for themselves.

Indeed, the report mentioned found that '49% [of those questioned] had seen or heard TV or radio programmes sponsored by a gambling company'.

Attempts to curtail this trend are both noble and necessary, though I doubt this specific measure would have much effect; children today are often allowed, by their parents, to stay up way past the 'watershed' hour meaning the viewing may be postponed a little but not avoided completely.

The notion that parents bear a portion of the responsibility for this gambling trend also comes from the fact 26% of those interviewed in this survey have seen their parents gamble.

Perhaps one of the only positive findings from the study mentioned in this article is that, while 'past week' gambling participation is up by 2% from last year (to 14%), the figure has decreased by 9% since 2011 (see below).

Past week ambling participation - trend

Whether the trend shown here shall continue going down or make a return upwards is yet to be observed. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.