One In Seven Of Your Kids Is Addicted To Gambling

If you’re like me, you bet occasionally, my guilty pleasure is a little accumulator on the football each week. A relatively small outlay but large reward if I get lucky, or the odd poker game, wherein my case luck usually precedes my skill. So in my case, there is no skill involved and it is pure guesswork, in both cases. I appreciate that in other instances, skill can be used and that some people make a lot of money from gambling. I am one of the fortunate ones also, I walk away from gambling when I chose. For many gambling can become a problem. However until today, when I heard it on the radio. I didn’t even consider that it also affects our kids.

In a recent audit by the Gambling Commission, it was estimated that one in seven 11-16 year old’s gambles the average of £16 per week regularly. My eldest lad is 12 years old and he has a lot more than 7 mates. This means as a guess, 2-3 of his peer group are spending an average of sixteen pounds every week on bets. From the same audit, it was announced that there are 55,000 problem gamblers in the UK between the ages 11-16. plus, another 70,000 11-16-year-olds are deemed at risk. This is a quadruple rise in children problem gamblers in just two years. A lot of this money goes on fruit machines, bingo, bookmakers and online betting. All of which are illegal under 18.

Most of us say to our kids  ‘Bet you can’t swim a length of the pool, I bet you can save that penalty, or I bet you can pass your spellings this week”. In my case, it’s a bit more. All three of my kids can play Blackjack, they know it as Pontoon, or 21, but effectively it’s the same thing. We have even played with loose change. Nothing major, maybe 50p’s worth of 2p and 1p coins. I drew the line at poker, but only because after trying to explain the rules of Texas Hold’em 15 times and losing the will to live. Not because at the time I thought it was a stupid idea or could even be dangerous to my child’s mental health.



So, is it my fault, or our fault? Should we be doing more in preventing it? 

Lord Chadlington, former Chairman of Action on Addiction demands a crackdown on Adverts.

“I am calling for a stop to gambling advertising on live sporting events on television and these numbers (quoted above from the Gambling Commission) reinforce the need for urgent action.” 

He goes on to be quoted further,

“Italy, which has some 20 percent fewer problem gamblers than the UK is banning it. Why is bombardment of gambling advertising on television continuing in the UK”

The Church of England has stated that they feel gambling adverts should be banned before the 9 pm watershed. However, I think, that thanks to our viewing habits the watershed doesn’t really count for much these days and with all the catchup channels, we can watch post-watershed content at three in the afternoon if we want.

Believe it or not, there is a cross-party group of MP’s and Peers who are working on this together. They have raised concerns about the rising levels of addiction and are calling for a ban on ‘in play’ style betting adverts, or even a complete ban on gambling advertising during live sporting events. This will include TV adverts, billboard advertising and clothing sponsorship. They have also gone as far as to say that gambling should be a public health issue, similar to tobacco. 

It would be really easy to agree and conclude that a ban on advertising would be a great step. But we can’t stop there. We have to take some responsibility. 

There is clearly a fine line with healthy and unhealthy language. 

‘I bet you could win the race and if you do I will get you some vBucks’

But we could be a little more careful with it. We can also look out for the problems in an attempt to stop it before it becomes a real issue. There are warning signs too, other than the obvious that your kid’s money fluctuates a lot, or they are stealing from your wallet. It could be a change in internet use, or even they gamble to help cope with stress or boredom?

Another really simple idea is to sit them down and explain how the odd’s system actually works, but in a way that they will understand. For example, the odds of you winning the lotto are 1 in 45,057,474, but the odds of being hit directly by a meteor are 1 in 1,600,000. So you are nearly 28 times more likely to be hit by a meteor than winning the lottery and how many people have you heard of that have been hit by space rock?

The biggest thing I am going to do is change my own habits. Think about my language and its effects before blurting out sentences randomly. When I sit down and do my accumulator on the phone, I will make sure they are not around. I’m not going to stop taking them to the 2p machines at the end of the pier, but I might stop saying I bet you can win that teddy.

Anyone with kids will understand how their brains can withhold information, usually the wrong information. Who hasn’t been embarrassed when their own little angel picks their moment to repeat something you said by mistake.

“I remember after getting to a lift just after the door shut once and for the next three hours my then 4-year-old thought it was hilarious to repeat the profanities that I muttered a little too loudly”.

So if they see us gambling regularly they might normalise this in their head and maybe even equate gambling to a way of making money?

I’m not going to change my life dramatically just keep an eye on it. I’m the lucky one, gambling is fun and social for me. But I want to ensure my kids view it the same way. 



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Part time blogger | Part time gardener | Dad

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