Does on line gambling expose young people to serious risks?
By Alan Bullion
This is a real issue, as the Gambling Comission's recent survey of 11 to 16 year olds showed. They found that:
12% of 11-16 year olds had spent their own money gambling in the past week
The most common forms of gambling are fruit machines (4%), private bets with friends (3%) and National Lottery scratchcards (3%)
Young people who had gambled spent an average of £10 on gambling in the week
Online gambling is no more common than these traditional forms. 3% of 11-16 year olds have ever spent their own money on online gambling.
However, more worryingly, 7% have gambled online using a parent's account. It's not always clear that parents know what is going on, so there's definitely a role for closer parental supervision. This deserves support from the internet companies.
More often the problems come with online or computer games, which can involve money. 11% of young people have played free gambling-style social games online. The same proportion bet with in-game items with money value when playing computer or app-based games. So some types of computer games can be a common way into gambling.
That's why the Gambling Commission - rightly - has gone after companies which use computer games to introduce people to betting, and prosecuted them if they are not covered by a gambling licence. The Commission found that some companies were making big profits by luring young people into betting this way without them realising it.
This is, in a very genuine sense, a child protection issue, and it deserves that level of priority. We have regulators in place to act on it. We need to make sure they have the resources to keep young people safe.
Parliamentary Candidate for Sevenoaks & Swanley, 2017