We're letting our children gamble their futures
PUBLISHED: 06:25 14 December 2017
Something needs to be done now to curb online gambling to stop a generation of children being hooked, says Rachel Moore.
Gambling used to be mysterious and seedy goings-on, largely by men, behind the blacked-out windows of betting shops.
Today glamorised and normalised by advertising, children view betting as a game. Eleven-year-olds are engaged in losing their money on websites by trading virtual items, not realising what they are doing is gambling and they are already hooked.
Gambling is becoming part of children’s every day life by advertising and its accessibility on-line. No longer furtive, it’s mainstream and polluting young people’s lives with them building up gambling debts long before they can even think of finding a job.
The Gambling Commission’s annual report this week revealed the problem of “skin betting”, when items they win – modified guns and knives usually – can be sold and turned back into money.
About 370,000 11- to 16-year-olds have spent money on gambling in the past week, the report said. It might not sound a lot nationally, but these are children gambling their pocket money, a habit that could spiral into massive debts unless gambling is viewed as less socially acceptable.
The regulators need to take quick action. Parents and schools have a responsibility to take gambling as seriously as drinking, sex and drugs and treat it as the exploding public health issue it is, with education programmes at home and at school.