Roy­als’ haunt un­der fire for teenagers’ gam­bling event

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Jamie Mer­rill fans their me ple ed ou-

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.

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