From Cradle to Grave – The rise in Children Addicted to Gambling
In a report published in November 2018, the Gambling Commission confirmed the shocking statistics that 14% of children aged between 11 and 16 years old had gambled in the past week, with 1.7% of children in this age group classified as problem gamblers, a marked increase from the 2017 report. This means that the number of children with a gambling addiction has quadrupled over the past two years to over 50,000 nationally.
The Commission’s report also found that a 13% of children had played online gambling games in the past week, with a shocking 39% of children having spent their own money on gambling over the past 12 months. Furthermore, the Commission confirmed that more children have placed a bet than have consumed alcohol, taken drugs, or been involved in any other illegal activity for children.
The report followed a further finding by the Commission the week before that nearly 90% of all pubs tested across England failed to prevent children from gambling on their fruit machines.
The Gambling Commission points the blame for the rise in children gambling squarely in the direction of online gaming. The Commission suggests that video games can be a route into betting, with a million children each year exposed to gambling through ‘loot boxes’ in video games and smartphone apps. Many people consider that these features in popular games are in fact a form of gambling, and should be regulated and not targeted at children.
Conversely, many suggest that TV advertising and sports sponsorship plays a significant role in helping to normalise gambling amongst children, which is supported by the Gambling Commission’s research that 66% of children confirm they have seen gambling advertised. However, the industry has begun to take steps to mitigate this, and from August 2019 has agreed a voluntary ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban on gambling advertisements during sports fixtures.
What is being done to stop Children from Gambling?
As of 7 May 2019, the Gambling Commission updated the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) to include enhanced age and identity verification rules.
Prior to the LCCP update, gambling operators were allowed to let people sign up to their websites and deposit and bet funds as long as the operator verified the age of the customer within 72 hours, or before a withdrawal of funds was made. However, following the damning statistics from the 2018 report, the Commission had to take action to stop this practice, which potentially allows minors to gamble without age verification taking place.
As a result, the new LCCP age verification rules confirm that operators must verify the name, address, and date of birth of all customers prior to allowing the customer to gamble.
Whilst not an absolute method of avoiding young people betting, this is definitely a step in the right direction in terms of helping to prohibit access to online betting and gaming sites by children and young people.
In addition, the Gambling Commission announced in February 2020 its partnership with Twitter in order to try to support users in limiting the amount of gambling-related content that it had shown to them on social media. Research suggests that this will have a particular impact on Children and Young People, who have been shown to be far more susceptible to these types of online advertising.
How can Ellis Jones help you?
Ellis Jones has a specialist betting and gaming disputes team to provide compassionate and client-focused assistance to families who have been involved with issues surrounding children betting and gaming, and have suffered loss as a result. We have experience of dealing with and resolving matters in a number of different ways, including submitting complaints to betting companies, and working with the Gambling Commission and other agencies. Please call Paul Kanolik, Henrietta Dunkley or William Dooley on 01202 525333 to discuss your case and how we may be able to assist you in recovering your losses.