Bishop’s fury at child gambling
THOUSANDS of children have been turned into gambling addicts after being targeted by betting firms, a senior bishop has claimed.
Dr Alan Smith, the bishop of St Albans, plans to raise the “generational scandal” in the House of Lords this week warning that 55,000 children have already been identified as problem gamblers.
Dr Smith described how he was inspired to campaign on the issue after meeting parents whose son took his own life after fighting a gambling addiction.
He said: “That family’s loss is not an isolated case – it’s been depressing to meet several other grieving parents.
“Those campaigning parents went on to win the battle to persuade the Government to slash the stakes on the most addictive gaming machines from £100 to £2. Yet this victory can’t lead to complacency as we face further challenges.”
The bishop has pointed out gambling is now a bigger problem for children in Britain than drink or drugs but does not get the same level of publicity. He warned: “Moaning about gambling isn’t good enough – substantial change is needed.”
In an attack on the industry, he wrote: “Under-18s are inundated with more than three gambling adverts a day while 90 per cent of pubs fail to stop children from gambling on the fruit machines found in nearly every establishment. Children are the next target of an industry making billions in profits which shows little inclination to take any form of responsibility.”
He added: “The techy brilliance of children is wonderful if it is part of a safe and encouraging world, but older generations are failing to provide this.” He pointed out that YouTube videos which encourage gambling are available to anyone and highlighted that gambling is promoted on social media as well. He said: “Gambling companies tell us they’re working hard to protect children but that claim simply doesn’t stack up.” The Remote Gambling Association, which represents the industry, rejected the criticism arguing that there are effective protections online.
A spokesman said: “For obvious reasons due to age verification software and technological advantages, remote gambling is in a good position when it comes to protecting children from access to online platforms. “However, the gambling industry must never be complacent where children are concerned and we will continue to address any shortfalls which exist.”
WARNING: Dr Alan Smith says more must be done to protect children
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