A Christian social policy charity has described findings that the number of children who gamble has quadrupled in just two years as ‘grim reading’.
A Gambling Commission study has found that 450,000 aged 11-16 bet regularly, with scratchcards, slot machines and bets among friends most popular.
The figure represents around 39 per cent of all young people in this age group. Those who have gambled in the past week have spent an average of £16.
James Mildred, a spokesman for CARE, said: ‘These latest statistics make for grim reading.
‘They are a stark reminder that there is a huge amount of work to do in making sure our gambling laws are fit for purpose.’
He continued: ‘Above all we need to be asking the right questions, for example why has there been this sharp increase? What is fuelling it?
‘In this connection, one area that needs immediate attention is gambling advertising. It is surely time to blow the whistle on sport betting ads being shown around live sporting events. The whole relationship between football leagues and gambling firms also needs a wider public debate.’
He said: ‘Gambling advertising suggests gambling is fun, easy and harmless. The reality is the opposite is often true. Problem gambling in childhood can lead to further issues with gambling addiction later in life.’
The Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith, said: ‘Today’s findings by the Gambling Commission make worrying reading and serve as a warning to parents.’