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England: GamCare targets teen gambling

1 October 2010

LONDON, England -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- 2% of adolescents - 60,000 12-15 year olds - are problem gamblers. Yet only 5% of parents would stop their child from gambling. Nothing in the school curriculum helps children understand the risks and how to manage them, and there is no coherent national strategy to address this.

These are the findings brought together by GamCare, the leading national provider of support, advice and treatment for problem gambling, in a report published today. Beating the odds: preventing teenage problem gambling sets out GamCare's programme for action.

Minister for Tourism and Heritage John Penrose, who has responsibility in Government for gambling policy said:

"GamCare have highlighted an important issue. Better education for the young, and for parents, is key to preventing problems later in life. Many people enjoy gambling as a sociable leisure activity, but helping young people to understand how to gamble responsibly and to make informed choices is vital to ensuring we keep gambling safe and fun."

Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, comments:

"Educating young people about the risks of gambling is vital. Students can be a particularly vulnerable group. If, before they arrive at university, they are equipped with an awareness of the risks and the strategies to stay in control, they'll be able to make wiser decisions."

GamCare's ambassador, Chris Eubank says:

"I know only too well from my own experience how easy it is when you are young to get drawn into things without being aware of the consequences. Problem gambling is not just about losing your money – or someone else's. When it's out of control gambling can lead to dropping out of school, depression, and turning to alcohol or drugs to cope. Some are tempted into crime to pay their debts. Some consider ending their lives. I'll be lending my weight to GamCare's efforts across the country, particularly with disadvantaged young people."

GamCare CEO Andy McLellan says:

"This is the first time the latest UK statistics and international evidence has been brought together. The facts that emerge point to an urgent need to inform young people - and their parents - about responsible gambling, and to provide help for those already in trouble. GamCare, with its partners, is developing a programme and materials for use in schools, youth centres and elsewhere to address the issue. We'll harness new channels of communication aimed specifically at a young audience, both to raise awareness and to deliver help and support for anyone in trouble. We want problem gambling to be talked about frankly and openly, with easily understood messages. Under 18s aren't seeking our help at the moment and we need to encourage more of them to talk to us now, rather than hold back until a potential crisis point later in life."

GamCare's planned programme includes:

Pilots in different regions bringing expert counsellors, teachers, parents and voluntary groups together to raise awareness locally

Development of new ways to communicate with and help young people, using social networking, viral advertising, mobile content etc

Short and accessible training packages for teachers, youth workers and others working with young people to increase their awareness of the issues and of how to find help

We can make a start thanks to specific donations from the private sector. We're keen to work with others to make the programme a reality.

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