Getting Serious

Does your kid gamble? 

I often do an accumulator on the football. A  small outlay but large reward if I get lucky. Or the odd poker

Game of poker anyone?
Game of poker anyone?

game, where in my case luck usually precedes my skill.

I am one of the fortunate ones, I walk away from gambling when I chose. For many gambling can become a problem. Yet, until I heard it on the radio and subsequently read up a little. I didn’t even consider that it also affects our kids.

In a recent audit by the Gambling Commission. It was estimated that one in seven 11-16 year old’s gambles the average of £16 per week regularly.

My eldest lad is 13 years old and he has a lot more than 7 mates. This means 2-3 of his peer group are spending an average of £16 every week gambling. From the same audit, it was announced that there are 55,000 problem gamblers in the UK between the ages of 11-16. Plus, another 70,000 11-16-year-olds that are deemed at risk.

This is a quadruple rise in children who have a problem with gambling  in two years.

Most of us say to our kids,  ‘I bet you can swim a length of the pool’. ‘I bet you can save that penalty’. Or, ‘I bet you can pass your spellings this week’.

In my case, it’s a bit more. All three of my kids can play Blackjack, they know it as 21. We have even played with loose change.  Only 50p’s worth of 2p and 1p coins. But still real money.

I drew the line at poker. But only because after trying to explain the rules of Texas Hold’em 15 times and losing the will to live. Not because at the time I thought it was a stupid idea or could even be dangerous to my child’s health.

So, is it my fault, or our fault? Should we be doing more in preventing it? 

Lord Chadlington, former Chairman of Action on Addiction demands a crackdown on Adverts.

“I am calling for a stop to gambling advertising on live sporting events on television. These numbers reinforce the need for urgent action.” 

He goes on to further say,

“Italy, which has some 20 percent fewer problem gamblers than the UK is banning it. Why is bombardment of gambling advertising on television continuing in the UK”

The Church of England has stated. They feel gambling adverts should be banned before the 9 pm watershed.

But, thanks to our viewing habits the watershed doesn’t  count for much these days. With all the catchup channels available. We can watch post-watershed content at three in the afternoon if we want.

Who else enjoys playing on the 2p machines found at the end of piers across the country?
Who else enjoys playing on the 2p machines found at the end of piers across the country?

Believe it or not, there is a cross-party group of MP’s and Peers who are working on this together. They have raised concerns about the rising levels of addiction. They are calling for a ban on ‘in play’ style betting adverts. Or a complete ban on gambling advertising during live sporting events. This will include TV adverts, billboard advertising and clothing sponsorship. They have also gone as far as saying, that gambling should be a public health issue, like tobacco. 

It would be easy to agree and conclude that a ban on advertising would be a great step. But we can’t stop there. 

We have to take some responsibility. 

There is a fine line with healthy and unhealthy language. 

‘I bet you could win the race and if you do, I will get you some vBucks’

But, we could be a little more careful with it. We can also look out for the problems in an attempt to stop it before it becomes a real issue.

There are warning signs too. Your kid’s money fluctuates a lot. Or, they are stealing from your wallet. It could be a change in internet use, or even they gamble to help cope with stress or boredom?

Another simple idea is to sit them down and explain how the odd’s system actually works. In a way that

You are more likely to be hit directly by a meteor, than winning the lottery.

they will understand. For example, the odds of you winning the lotto are 1 in 45,057,474, but the odds of being hit  by a meteor is 1 in 1,600,000.

So you are  28 times more likely to be hit by a meteor than you are winning the lottery. How many people have you heard of that have been hit by space rock?

The biggest thing I am going to do is change my own habits. Think about my language and its effects.

When I sit down and do my accumulator on my phone, I will make sure the kids are not around. I’m not going to stop taking them to the 2p machines at the end of the pier, but I will stop saying I bet you can win that teddy.

Anyone with kids will understand how their brains can withhold information. Usually the wrong information.

Who hasn’t been caught out when their mini-me picks that choice moment to repeat something that you said by mistake?

I remember after arriving at a lift after the door shut once. For the next three hours my then 4-year-old thought it was hilarious to repeat the profanities that I muttered. 

If they see us gambling they might normalise this in their head. They may even equate gambling to a way of making money?

I’m not going to change my life too much. Just keep an eye on it.

I’m the lucky one, gambling is fun and social for me. But I want to ensure my kids view it the same way.

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This is an edited version of my original article for TotRockinBeats.


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