Shropshire Star comment: We must not gamble with young

The plight of child gambling is deeply disturbing. An increasing number of youngsters are gaining access to online gambling sites and frittering away money as though it were water.

The ease with which they do so will cause concern among all right-thinking people. For the activities of children can be truly frightening.

They are not entirely to blame, of course. In their naivety they do not realise how addictive gambling is nor what consequences can follow.

They simply follow the buzz and once they start to rack up losses, find themselves gambling higher and higher amounts in the futile hope of recouping their debt.

Gambling companies are unlikely to be sympathetic towards parents whose credit cards and debit cards have been used. And the long slow haul out of debt follows.

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The big issue is access. Youngsters can obtain a place at the gambling table in a way that was once impossible. The democratisation of gambling has made it easier than it has ever been for children to pick up bad habits.

Gambling is ubiquitous. It has been normalised.

It has gone mainstream. Gone are the days when gambling happened behind closed doors where youngsters under the age of 18 would have been given short shrift.

Now gambling is a normal part of life. There are advertisements and logos on football shirts.

It is glamorous in the way cigarette smoking once was, before the government cracked down.

Smoking was once associated with the high life, with F1 cars and aspirational lives.

Now it is associated with cancerous lungs and early death.

Gambling can destroy lives just as easily – and more quickly.

There is no dispute that people can derive innocent enjoyment from a flutter at the races, from a bet on the dogs, from a wager at the football or cricket.

But the rise in childhood gambling is of grave concern.

It is time for change. It is time for the government to intervene.

Allowing kids to get hooked is simply unacceptable.

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