Bishop to quiz Government over alarming rise of child gamblers

The Rt Rev Alan Smith has asked the Government what assessment they have made of the prevalence of gambling among children and young people.

This comes off the back of last year’s alarming report released by the Gambling Commission showing that the number of child gamblers has quadrupled in just two years. The figures suggest 450,000 children aged 11-16 bet on a regular basis and 55,000 children are classed as problem gamblers.

The report also highlighted that children are being inundated with by gambling adverts, with two in three saying they had seen a gambling advert on TV.

Bishop Smith who leads on the issue of gambling in the House of Lords for the Church of England previously referred to the findings as a ‘generational scandal’.

Tomorrow Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate will continue to press the issue by using an Oral Question to push for the Government to ban gambling advertising to counter negative effects on younger and vulnerable people.

Whilst some betting companies have recently pledged a whistle-to-whistle gambling advertising ban,just under half – 9 out of 20 Premier League teams and 17 out of 24 (70 percent) of teams in the Championship are sponsored by gambling companies. In total, across the top two leagues in the UK 60 per cent of teams will have gambling companies as their sponsors. Therefore, children are still going to see their sporting heroes endorsing gambling, which is extremely problematic.

Highstreet bookies must play their part too. An undercover investigation by the Daily Mail also found that bookies are not enforcing the law on gambling by letting under-18s gambling on highly addictive Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

CARE’s Spokesperson James Mildred said:

“The Bishop of St Albans is absolutely right in bringing this issue firmly to the Government’s attention.

“For too long the Government has relied on outdated law and voluntary codes to tackle the UK’s gambling problems. However current gambling legislation is not working for anyone. Instead it has led to an epidemic of child problem gamblers.

“The recent decision to slash the maximum stake on highly addictive FOBTs was one step in the right direction but it is only a first step and we now need to do something about gambling advertising and the concerning relationship between gambling firms and football clubs. 

“Gambling advertising suggests gambling is fun, easy and harmless. We know that is not the case. Problem gambling in childhood can lead to further issues with gambling addiction later in life.

“Betting companies continue to side-step the ban on advertising to children by sponsoring football clubs and putting their logos on team shirts. We need a wider discussion on football’s relationship with gambling.

“The Government can no longer ignore this issue. The quadrupling of child problem gamblers in the UK in the last two years show this issue is only getting worse and preventative measures must be put in place to safeguard young people.”

Rachael Adams

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