A leading academic involved in public consultation around the Department of Media, Culture and Sport's gambling legislation has warned playing on slot machines can embed a lifelong gambling habit in children.
Professor Mark Griffiths, speaking to BBC Radio Four's Today programme, called for child gambling to be given "serious" consideration, describing ministers' approach to child gambling as "naive".
His study of over 8,000 people, commissioned by the National Lottery, found 3.5 per cent of children had a gambling addiction, predominantly linked to slot machines.
This makes this "small but significant minority" of children three to four times more likely to be addicted than adults.
Professor Griffiths warned that children funding their addiction might "literally have to beg, steal or borrow".
The link to criminality recurred in Professor Griffiths' interview with the Daily Mail, where he related child gambling to "delinquency, alcohol and substance abuse, poor school performance, theft and truancy".
The government "must stop children playing these machines", Professor Griffiths told the paper.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "We … will not hesitate to use our reserve powers if there's evidence that these machines are causing harm to children."To compare the best savings accounts, click here.
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