Worrying rise in the number of problem gamblers aged 11 to 16
Let’s be frank, underage gambling is nothing new. It is a problem that has existed for years.
17:44 10 January 2019
However, an alarming report published by the UK Gambling Commission has revealed a worrying rise in the number of children with gambling problems.
Branded ‘Generation Scandal’, the audit discloses that more than 55,000 children between the ages of 11 and 16 have a gambling problem. A figure which has quadrupled within the last two years.
It found that minors, those under 18 years old, were betting an average of £16 a week on online games, fruit machines, scratchcards, bingo and at betting shops. The audit went on to state that 70,000 youngsters were deemed to be at risk, and an astounding 450,000 children gamble on a regular basis. Such has been the dramatic increase that more children have said that they have placed a bet within the last seven days than smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs.
Help is needed
As is often the case when a problem arises, various parties tend to place part (if not all) of the blame, and the onus of solving it, at someone else’s doorstep. Yet, history has proven that to be a flawed method, and the only reasonable way to reach a positive outcome is by collectively working together to tackle the issue.
These are a few ideas that we’ve come up whilst giving this matter some serious thought. We aren’t saying any of them are perfect, and of course, where there’s a will, there’s a way, but it’s evident that we need to start somewhere - and soon.
- Compulsory 2FA
This relates to joining online gambling websites, such as sportsbooks, casinos and bingo rooms. Customers cannot login without using two-factor authentication (2FA) or a one time password (OTP) sent to an email or phone number. This is naturally easy to circumvent but if the extra security deters even a few at risk youngsters, then it’s worth consideration.
- Removal of anonymous payment methods
Paysafe cards are a very convenient way to load funds into a real money online gambling account. These can be purchased over the counter from 100s of shops for cash making it easy for a minor to gain access to real money gambling. By nipping this option in the bud, we are making it more difficult, which is a good thing we believe.
- No demo games allowed
Online casinos in particular use demo games, also known as free-play, to allow players a chance to try a few titles before playing for real money. Is this a temptation too far for children? Does this encourage them to engage in real money play? We’re inclined to believe it does encourage, after all that is the purpose of them for adult players.
- Parental responsibility
Of course, gambling operators must be held responsible for ads featuring material that is appealing to children, but parents should also take steps to protect their children from underage gambling and the harms that arise from it. There are numerous apps available like Web Watcher and Family Time that are specifically designed to allow parents to know what content their child is viewing online. Using more of these would undoubtedly stop a certain percentage before it was too late.
The focus above has mainly been looking at underage gambling in the online space, but the problem exists equally in the real world, too. Betting shops, arcade-style casino shops, venues with fruit machines and so on all need to step up and assist in tackling this growing epidemic. Government funding would assist in better educating the young generation of the dangers of gambling. Ultimately, this isn’t his problem or their problem, it’s our problem to solve - collectively. Everyone from parents, elder siblings and teachers to gambling operators, payment vendors and shopkeepers have a role to play in protecting children and preventing underage gambling.
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