Royals’ haunt under fire for teenagers’ gambling event
THE Hurlingham Club is caught up in a row over a poker night for teenagers, with anti-gambling campaigners accusing the organisers of holding a “staggeringly ill-conceived” event.
The west London club, patronised by the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister Pippa, is to be transformed into a Las Vegas-style casino next month for the event, billed as “one of the most glamorous parties of the season”.
However, Lord Chadlington, the leading Tory peer and donor, who is campaigning for better protection for children from gambling, has accused the exclusive club of contributing to the “normalisation of gambling”.
He said: “Children are being groomed to gamble. We must pay much more attention to the serious effects of gambling-related harm and this reinforces the need for urgent action, particularly to protect children.”
Details of the event emerged days after the Gambling Commission warned that the number of children classed as having a gambling problem has quadrupled to more than 50,000 in just two years. According to a report by the body, more than 450,000 children bet regularly, more than those who have taken drugs, smoked or drunk alcohol.
The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith, the Church of England’s lead on gambling, told The Sunday Telegraph: “In light of the Gambling Commission’s findings this week an event like this seems staggeringly ill-conceived. For tens of thousands of young people gambling has already become a dangerous habit.
“I regret any attempts to normalise gambling among teenagers.”
No money will change hands at the event, but the guests, aged between 15 and 19, are being invited to play with chips and think like “James Bond” with their “poker faces and lucky charms at the ready”. Tickets start at £22.
A spokesman for the Hurlingham Club declined to comment on member activity. Poker Vision, the firm providing equipment and staff, said: “It is completely just for fun. There is no money at all changing hands.”
Lord Chadlington is also calling for a review to ban gambling in video games, such as Fortnite, as well as “essential” action to curtail gambling advertising during live sporting events.