Petition calls for ban on children gambling

 As long long as a child is tall enough to put money in the slot - they can gamble on Category D fruit machines - under current legislation. Britain remains the only country in the developed world that allows children to gamble. A petition organised by The Salvation Army, the Methodist Church and children's charity NCH this week, is appealing for a lower age limit on gambling machines. Already over 35,000 have signed. The Gambling Bill reaches its committee stage in the House of Lords today. An amendment to the bill has been put down which would ban children from gambling on category D fruit machines, while allowing them to carry on playing on teddy-bear grabbing machines and penny falls. Jonathan Lomax from The Salvation Army said: "The Government has clearly said that children and gambling don't mix, yet they still will not act to ensure that children are adequately protected from the dangers posed by gambling on category D fruit machines." In an NOP poll 82% of respondents said children and young people should not be allowed to gamble on fruit machines. Academics suggest that around 5% of British adolescents can be classified as 'problem gamblers' - more than five times the adult prevalence of problem gambling. "The Government has made some welcome moves to protect children from gambling, but whilst children are still allowed to gamble on fruit machines they will remain at greater danger of developing a gambling problem," commented Rachel Lampard, from the Methodist Church. "Problem gambling in children often results in truancy, criminal records, problems at school and family breakdown - all problems which can permanently damage a child's growth and development. This is a serious child protection issue that Government needs to recognise and act upon." Comments from members of the public have indicated not only the high level of feeling about children and gambling but also the many ways that families have been affected. People have commented on their own children becoming addicted to fruit machines and dropping out of college, and about other family members becoming addicted whilst on family holidays. The huge public response comes just two weeks after news that flawed research commissioned by the Government had been heavily criticised by leading academics and churches for grossly understating the problem of adolescent gambling. Evidence shows that there is no public demand for an increase in gambling opportunities created by the new legislation as an NOP Poll indicates that 93% of the public think there are already enough opportunities to gamble. To sign the petition visit: Source: Methodist Church/Salavation Army

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