Child gamblers: The signs to look out for and how to seek help

Many children gamble via new technologies. Credit: PA

The number of children with gambling problems has quadrupled to more than 50,000 in just two years, a study has shown.

Research by the Gambling Commission indicates there could be a further 70,000 children aged 11 to 16 who are at risk of developing problems.

Matt Serlin, a Families Counsellor at Action on Addiction said gambling can be "traumatic" for families.

He said: "When a child has a problem with gambling it can be extremely frightening, confusing and traumatic for parents.

"It is important to remember that if a child gambles it does not automatically mean they are going to get addicted."

Here is some advice for parents on how to spot the warning signs of child gambling from Action on Addiction:

  • Unexplained absences from school or college

  • Sudden deterioration in grades or failure to complete assignments on time

  • Unaccountable explanation for new items of value in possession

  • Borrowing or stealing money

  • Selling personal belongings

  • Change or uncharacteristic shows of personality or behaviour

  • Unusual interest in newspapers, magazines, sports scores etc.

  • Withdrawing from family and friends

Mobile betting applications. Credit: PA

How can you combat gambling in your child?

  • Talk to your child about gambling

  • Show children that you are willing to talk to them openly

  • Give them the facts - ideally before they are exposed to the fantasy

  • Seek professional support if your child has a serious problem

  • Increased awareness and understanding

  • Offer a connection with people who've been through similar experiences

Where to seek help?