Children At Risk From Online Gambling, Expert Says

By Shawn Dwyer 01/21/14

One of the U.K.’s top gambling experts says that children must learn about the dangers of addiction before it’s too late.

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Professor Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, recently urged schools to teach students about the dangers of gambling addiction due to increased exposure to online gambling sites.

One of the key risks Griffiths points out is how some sites allow new users to gamble with virtual money or even play for free, which could lead to deeper involvement and addiction once real money becomes involved. “When you start winning, you start thinking that, if I was playing with real money, I could be doing quite well,” Griffiths said in an interview with TES magazine. He went on to stress that this component could be especially dangerous to children. “One of the biggest predictors of whether people become gamblers is the playing of gambling-type games on free-play sites,” he said. “Children who play these free games are more likely to gamble and more likely to develop problem gambling behaviours. These are gateway activities that can lead people down the gambling road.”

Griffiths said that teachers stand to play a vital role in providing students lessons about potential risks and rewards, as well as understanding how gambling inherently creates more losers than winners. “I’ve always said that gambling and gaming is off the radar,” Griffiths said. “But teachers should start talking about these sorts of things. I don’t want to come across as an omen of doom. There’s nothing wrong with kids playing gambling-type games, but you have to accompany it with education.”

Watch an Australian news report on a slots game app popular with children: