A report produced by the Gambling Commission reveals 11-16-year-olds are more likely to gamble than drink or smoke.
Based on a survey involving 2,865 11-16-year-olds recorded between 5 February and 2 July, gambling participation had increased in the past 12 months. A total of 14% admitted to spending their own money on gambling, up from 12% in 2017.
This compared to 13% who have drunk alcohol, 4% who have smoked cigarettes and 2% who have taken illegal drugs.
The report showed 6% of those who took part in the survey had used a parent’s account to gamble online, 13% have played online gambling-style games and 12% followed gambling companies on social media.
A total of 66% had seen gambling advertising on TV and 59% had also seen such advertising on social media channels.
Last week, the Commission found evidence there was serious failures in preventing children playing on gambling machines in pubs.
Tim Miller, Executive Director at the Commission, said: “Protecting children from the harms that can come from gambling remains one of our highest priorities. In the areas we have regulatory control; we continue to strengthen the protections in place to prevent underage gambling, such as our recent proposals for enhanced age verifications checks for online gambling.”
Marc Etches, CEO at GambleAware, said: “Frankly, it is completely unacceptable that so many children are now considered to be problem gamblers. This is a stark reminder that gambling is a public health issue and we cannot ignore it.
"The combination of ubiquitous gambling advertising and a blurring of the lines between computer games and gambling are all contributing to the normalisation of gambling for children.”