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Young People and Gambling

The research we reported today reveals that in the past week, 14 percent of 11-16 year olds in Britain gambled and 1.7 percent are problem gamblers. There’s no question that these are statistics that should make individuals sit up and pay attention and realize that there is no risk-free method of gambling. And we know that the early experiences of gambling among young people will influence their future relationships with it. But while discussions about kids and gambling may conjure up pictures of groups of kids being allowed to sneak into local bookies or sit alone on their iPads playing at an online casino, our latest research paints a more complicated, and maybe daunting, image.

Children’s most prevalent practices are not those that occur solely inside licensed gambling premises. The most prevalent ways of gambling in this age group do not include casinos, online gambling, bingo and bookies. Instead, we noticed kids tended to gamble out of sight of control in informal settings – private bets between friends or playing cards with their mates for cash. We also found them playing games in areas where parents were present or might be expected to be present-supermarket scratchcards or playing fruit machines in pubs.

We found only last week that almost 90 percent of the pubs checked across England struggled to deter kids from playing on their fruit machines. There are companies that are not gambling businesses, but also have a responsibility to protect young people from harm. None of this, of course, would distract us from our central obligation to protect children from the types of gambling that the businesses we control offer. When children are not adequately covered by gambling firms, we continue to take action and continue to increase the safety levels in place.

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