Children in schools throughout the UK are due to get lessons about the risks of #Gambling after it has been revealed that gambling #Addiction currently affects 430,000 people in the UK including around 25,000 children, according to a recent survey by think-tank, Demos.

Why do school children need lessons on gambling?

The survey found that one in six 11 to15-year-olds admitted to gambling in the last week. However, gambling is rarely included in the school curriculum with only 14 percent of students surveyed being taught about gambling in school which is also responsible for teaching children about the dangers of other "risky behaviours" such as alcohol, drugs, and sex.

What will they include?

The pilot lessons which are being launched by Demos and GambleAware, the UK's leading charity committed to minimising gambling-related harm, will encourage young people to weigh up the risks of gambling and managing impulses and delayed gratification as well as identifying methods of manipulation used by gambling operators to encourage them to gamble.

How many lessons have been delivered so far?

So far, a series of four lessons aimed at 14-year-olds were taught in schools throughout the UK as part of their PHSE curriculum, reaching 650 pupils. Out of those, 41 percent said that they had gambled within the last year, 21% of whom had used money to place bets, 17 percent of whom had played fruit machines and 14 percent who played cards for money.

What have the results been?

The lessons have been a success so far with Demos observing a seven percent decline in children playing cards for money over the last 12 months. In addition, there was a rise of pupils who now knew how to help those experiencing problem gambling at 20 percent, 18 percent more showed an awareness of where to seek help, an extra 11% displayed the ability to describe delayed gratification whilst an additional 10 percent were now aware of encouragement and persuasion techniques deployed by gambling operators.

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The success of the results has also lead to an additional 100 schools expressing an interest in taking part, signalling the need to raise significant awareness of the risk posed to young people as well as being submitted to the government as part of a consultation into PSHE lesson content, according to campaigners.

How does gambling affect adults in the UK?

Meanwhile, two million adults are at risk of developing a gambling problem, according to a report by industry regulator, The Gambling Commission, whilst 63 percent of British adults have gambled in the past year.

What is the social cost of problem gambling?

Indeed, the social cost of addition including treatment, welfare, housing and criminal justice adds up to £1.2 billion a year yet there is only one NHS funded gambling addiction clinic throughout the whole of the country. The facility is located in London and is aimed at helping local gambling addicts who deal with the subsequent negative effects of their habit.

Additionally, GambleAware receive £8.75 million as funding for gambling addiction, comparatively little compared to the fact that the gambling industry brings in as much as £13.8 billion each year and only received a 0.1% voluntary industry levy as funding although this is expected to double this year with the impact on the industry part of an ongoing debate.

Why are Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) blamed?

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), in particular, often receive widespread blame and a reputation as “the crack cocaine of gambling” for encouraging high-stakes gambling and exposing people to the risk of the associated harm. With 33,000 of them placed in betting shops throughout the country, they allow gamblers to stake up to £100 every 20 seconds on computer versions of games such as roulette, poker and blackjack.

The potential danger for these individuals and their wider communities becomes evident with 120,000 punters UK-wide or 11.5 percent of problem gamblers (up from 7.2 percent in 2012) addicted to FOBTs, with figures from GambleAware showing that 233,000 users lost more than £1,000 in a single sitting in 2016. However it must also be noted that the government is looking to slash the maximum stake to £2, something gambling firms say would lead to thousands of store closures. As well as this, each of the roughly 8,800 betting shops in the UK is only allowed four FOBTs.

Which areas are worst affected?

The areas which are worst affected tend to be economically deprived areas with higher levels of unemployment and higher proportions of workless households, where the concentration of betting shops is often disproportionately high. Glasgow has lost more to fixed-odds betting terminals than any other council area in the country at £27 million a year, according to research by the British Amusement Catering Trade Association.

Does online gambling have an impact?

More people are also using mobile phone or tablet to gamble with 51% of online players reporting to have gambled on a mobile or tablet in 2017, in contrast to just 43 percent in 2016, according to the UK Gambling Commission's (UKGC) Gambling Participation Report covering the year of 2017.

The report also revealed that one in five over-55s now regularly enjoy playing over the internet — with 300,000 making the switch in the past year, which is said to account for the 14 percent drop in bingo hall attendance over the same period. In the past decade, the number of bingo halls has nearly halved from almost 600 to 350. High tax and the smoking ban have also had an influence on the increase of closures but experts say online bingo’s rise is the biggest factor.

What has been done so far?

There has been an increase in advertising restrictions after a government crackdown aiming to set new standards for both physical and online gambling operators to comply with in order to ensure a higher level of customer protection particularly regarding their choice of wording. The restrictions will come into effect on April 2nd, 2018 and if operators do not adhere to these, they will have to pay heavy fines.

What about the impact of these restrictions on the gambling industry?

The industry has understandably been concerned about the impact that these restrictions will have to them but despite the changes, experts say that the online gambling industry is expected to continue steadily in 2018 whilst the industry will continue to grow by 800 percent in 2021 as virtual reality becomes more popular across the sector.

What steps need to be taken now?

Whilst the PHSE lessons, plan to drop maximum stakes to £2 for FOBTs and restrictions on advertising are all commendable and a step in the right direction, campaigners say that both the government and the industry are not doing enough to tackle problem gambling.

Campaigners say that the fact that the government has never collected figures about the number of people who are treated or counselled by the NHS for problem gambling, suggesting that they don't even seem interested in recognising problem gambling as Britain's hidden epidemic and it's about time we begin to take problem gambling more seriously as a society. #epidemic