Underaged gambling on the UK lottery is significantly tougher to achieve following the introduction of stringent child protection measures by lottery operator Camelot, the UK National Lottery Commission reports.
The Commission backs up this assertion with the results of a study of a hefty sample of 9 000 youths that shows the number of twelve to fifteen year olds illegally buying lottery products in the UK has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade.
Carried out by Ipsos MORI's Social Research Institute and the Centre for the Study of Gambling at the University of Salford, the 2008-09 British Survey of Children and Gambling was commissioned by the UK National Lottery Commission across the British Isles.
The study is of interest to Internet operators following previous research projects which have shown the lottery to be the most popular form of online or ‘remote' gambling in the UK.
It revealed that only 2 percent of children said they had played with their own money in the past seven days on lotto, down from 5 percent in 2006, while 4 percent of children claimed to have bought scratchcards, down from 6 percent in the previous year and a high of 9 percent in 2000. Only 1 percent said they had tried other lottery games compared to 6 percent in 2006.
Of the 96 percent of children who had been on the Internet in the past week, 27 percent had made a purchase online but only 0.3 percent of children claimed they had been able to bet on National Lottery games.
Dr Anne Wright CBE, Chair of the National Lottery Commission said: "This continuing decline in underage play shows that an effective regulatory framework together with a socially responsible operator makes it very difficult for children to access National Lottery products.
"But there is no room for complacency – we need to continue to identify ways to prevent the small percentage of children who claim to be playing from accessing games. We will look carefully at the research findings and continue to work with Camelot to see where we might make these controls even more effective to maintain the downward trend."
Camelot's exclusionay measures have included a covert test purchasing initiative aimed at keeping ticket retailers on their toes; restricting access to free-to-play online games; detailed registration requirements for interactive play and tools to assess the potential appeal of games to those who are under sixteen.
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The exclusion of free-to-play games is particularly effective, following an established link between this and real money tendencies found by the survey. 28 percent of twelve to fifteen year olds said they had played free or practice gambling games on the Internet in the past seven days, with the highest number playing free gambling games on social networking sites. 56 percent of children who had gambled with their own money in the past week had also played free online gambling games.
The study also encouragingly found that the numbers of underaged who could be defined as problem gamblers had dropped from 3.5 percent in 2006 to 2 percent in 2009, while the number of children attempting to buy lottery tickets also fell from 9 percent to 3 percent.
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