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New fears over online casinos addictions

Gambling at online casinos and betting at online sports-books is quickly becoming a favorite pastime of teenagers, some who are under the legal age to bet online. But often, with this easy access to online casinos and the large sums of money available for betting, gambling online comes at a very high price for those involved.
Since gambling at online casinos doesn’t seem as dangerous as trying drugs or drinking too much alcohol, many kids don’t equate it on the same level of addiction and thus they have no idea of the risks and the habits they are forming.
Furthermore, besides online casinos, it is clear that children in the United Kingdom are spending almost £6 every week on the National Lottery, a report revealed.
Thousands of youngsters blow their own money on a variety of gambling activities including fruit machines, scratch cards and personal bets, as well as online casinos.
And the amount they spend on lottery tickets has increased from £3.22 in 2000 to £5.73 today.
Fruit machines are the most popular form of underage gambling with nearly half 12 to 15-year-olds playing them in the last year, but online casinos will become more popular soon, experts say.
Placing private bets for money and buying scratch cards were the second and third most popular forms, with online casinos gaining steam.
Almost three quarters (73%) of the 8,000 youngsters questioned had gambled at some stage during their lifetimes, whether at online casinos or not.
And a quarter (26%) had spent their own money on some form of gambling (like online casinos) the week before being questioned for the National Lottery Commission's report.
Although some parents might view these relatively minor bets as harmless fun, experts say they are often the first step in what can become a big problem.
Barbara Meachen, a counsellor in Wales with gambling charity GamCare, said, "A lot of the clients we see started gambling quite young, usually on fruit machines, and go from there.
She added that gambling was an increasing problem in the digital age, with online casinos now taking center stage.
"It's so easy now, you can take a credit card in and gamble on that, you can gamble on the internet," she said. "It's very easy, you don't even have to leave your own home."
Of the 8,017 youngsters questioned, those classed as "problem" gamblers was down from 4.9% in 2000 to 3.5% today.
And only 12% of young people had played a National Lottery draw game in the past year compared to 26% in 2000.
Many who play at online casinos have this gambling addiction but don’t realize it until it’s too late. Cases in the United Kingdom recently have shown that many teens and college aged students have used their parents’ funds or credit cards to gamble at online casinos. But the online casinos are at fault, some say, for advertising to kids. Online casinos were not included in this specific report, however.

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