GambleAware calls for firm regulatory action to protect children

GambleAware calls for firm regulatory action to protect children

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 Posted by Luke Massey
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The charity is still concerned by problem gambling rates amongst children

GambleAware has welcomed the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) focus on protecting children, but reiterated its concern that 12% of 11 to 15-year-olds were found to be involved in regular gambling, making it more prevalent than activities such as ten-pin bowling, hockey or skateboarding.

The UKGC this week called for all those responsible for safeguarding children to work together to address access and exposure to gambling by children and young people, digital and online risks and preventative education, as well as evidence collection and consumer engagement.

Since 2011, the regulator has been collecting information about children in school years seven to 11. The data estimates the prevalence rates of problem gambling, while acknowledging that the changing nature of online activities dictates that some of those surveyed will have been exposed to new forms of gambling not captured by existing methods.

This 12% figure has decreased significantly from 23% in 2011, yet much of this decline (23% to 16%) occurred between 2011 and 2013. The guidance document published by the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) suggests that "it remains to be seen whether the new low of 12 per cent is the start of a consistently lower trend or a temporary aberration".

A significant portion of gambling by children (41%) is deemed as private among family and friends, but over half (51%) engaged in an activity that legally they should not have been able to access because of their age, including 13% who gambled online.

Of more pressing concern to GambleAware is that the survey found around 0.9% of children aged 11 to 15 are counted as problem gamblers, which equates to around 31,000. While these rates have remained stable, a further 1.3% (or 45,000) are deemed ‘at risk’ of falling into the category.

GambleAware CEO Marc Etches said: “GambleAware is concerned that 1 in 8 children aged between 11 and 15 years old are gambling regularly, and it is unacceptable that as many as 30,000 may be problem gamblers. Reducing gambling-related harms for children and young people requires firm regulatory action and we welcome the Gambling Commission’s focus on this issue.”

“It also needs action from parents, families and teachers if a real and lasting impact is to be made,” Etches continued. “For this to happen, there does need to be much more public debate about the role and position of gambling in society, and how best to protect children and young people from the harms that gambling can cause.

“In turn, as the Gambling Commission rightly notes, this requires support from a range of Government departments and other agencies to recognise gambling-related harms is a health issue that deserves our full attention.”

Totally Gaming says: In response to the RGSB guidance, the UKGC has set out further commitments to protecting children and young people from the dangers of gambling, building on work already underway in this area. This includes the drive for higher standards in age verification, including the introduction of ‘Think 25’ policies, after the UKGC acknowledged that "low but still unacceptable" numbers of children and young people are accessing age-restricted products.

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