GamCare has raised concerns around young people and gambling, suggesting they aren’t aware of when gambling can become harmful to them.
Data from GamCare shows that seven in 10 of the 353 young people calling the GamCare-operated National Gambling Helpline were under-18s that were exposed to gambling problems.
The young people that used their services in the last three years were experiencing gambling-related issues and many of these individuals were unsure of the risks.
To reveal the impact of gambling on a young person, GamCare did an MRI scan on an individual whose friend had lost thousands gambling.
The scan took place as the person was betting on an online roulette table, and findings showed how the reward pathway in our brain can be a driving force in the decisions we make.
Neuroscientist, Dr Jack Lewis, who conducted the MRI scan, said: “When you place a bet, the part of the brain that’s most interested are three interconnected areas that make up the core of the reward pathway. The reward pathway is instrumental to every decision we humans make, whether deciding what we want for dinner or what kind of bet is most likely to give us a win."
GamCare believes the harms of gambling should be taught to young people in school and that it should be part of the curriculum.
The charity currently provides information to parents and training to teachers, youth and social workers through its BigDeal website.
Anna Hemmings, CEO of GamCare, said: “Since lockdown, we’ve not only heard stories from our helpline that reveal young people are increasingly experiencing more parental gambling but there is also rising concern for potential harms to young people who gamble themselves.
“It’s been an extremely difficult year for young people, with many using the internet and social media not only to be in touch with friends, but also as a form of escapism.
"This makes it harder for parents to tell when their child might be displaying unhealthy behaviours, as often the symptoms, such as being withdrawn, can be confused with other issues and challenges teenagers face in this difficult period of their lives."