“It Was Just Far Too Easy”

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“Teenager, 13, took his dad’s credit card…it took literally seconds to register and start gambling”

As online gambling companies attempt to transform the device on which you’re reading this email into a virtual casino open 24/7, the industry’s latest underage victim is speaking out about the dangers of doing so.

A 13-year-old boy lost more than $100,000 after copying down the details of his dad’s credit card – “leaving his parents horrified when they realized what had happened.” The boy was able to spend nearly $80,000 in just one week because of the ease with which he circumvented the supposed safeguards peddled by the online gambling industry to justify its expansion across America:

 “It was just far too easy. I just had to put in dad’s name, ­address, date of birth and card details and checked a box saying I was 18 – it took literally seconds to register and start gambling.”

Crippled by loans, the boy’s “devastated parents” are now warning other families to “beware of the dangers of online gambling.” Their warning follows a recent Advertising Standards Authority ruling against a gambling website “based on fairytales” because of the likelihood that games featuring princesses and pixies “would appeal to children…particularly young girls”:

“The games featured animated images of birds, a young girl and a dragon, a pixie, a castle and a princess, a girl with long blonde hair, and a polar bear wearing a Santa hat, a polar bear cub, two penguins and a rabbit.”

Such a shameful strategy clearly aimed at luring vulnerable kids aligns all too well with the online gambling industry’s pattern of predatory practices.

FLASHBACK:

  • Business Insider: Online gambling ads appear “on pages with headlines such as ‘Twelve Ways To Stop Gambling Addiction Forever’ and a gaming website called GirlsGoGames.com”
  • The Times: “Cartoons lure kids to online gambling”
  • The Times: “Children are being bombarded with a record number of gambling adverts as betting websites embark on an unprecedented spending spree to attract new customers”
  • The Sun: “Fears grow over cartoons in online games luring kids to gambling”
  • ABC Australia: “[Online gambling company] Tabcorp promoting gambling with free jellybeans…the giveaway has been criticized…as promoting gambling to children”

In case you missed it over the weekend, read the latest heartbreaking account of the online gambling industry’s tight grip over its victims here or in its entirety below:

Teenager, 13, took his dad’s credit card and lost £80,000 on betting apps after seeing adverts at Wembley Stadium
The Sun
By John Shammas
June 3, 2018
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/ 6438989/teenager-13-took-his-dads-credit-card-and-lost-80000 -on-betting-apps-after-seeing- adverts-at-wembley-stadium/

In just one week he spent £60,000 as his addiction to online betting took hold, leaving his parents horrified when they realised what had happened.

His addiction began after going to Wembley stadium with his company director dad.

During the match he saw adverts for betting apps all around the stadium, and set up accounts on his own smartphone.

After copying down his dad’s credit card details, he began making lavish bets of £3,000 at a time.

Speaking to The Sunday People, the Lancashire lad said: “I had no idea that ­gambling could be an addiction like smoking, drinking or drugs.

“It seemed like fun and I thought I would make money too.

“It was just far too easy. I just had to put in dad’s name, ­address, date of birth and card details and checked a box saying I was 18 – it took literally seconds to register and start gambling.”

After his dad got a call from his bank alerting him to £20,000 worth of losses, the boy confessed to his addiction.

However weeks later he went on another binge, losing out on another £60,000.

The boy, now 15, added: “I remember being at Wembley seeing all those adverts, hearing guys around me bragging how much money they’d won and figured I’d give it a go. It seemed fun and easy.”

He would spend up to six hours a day, when he was in the grip of his addiction, betting online.

The youngster began having psychotherapy sessions but five months after his initial £20,000 of bets was discovered, he suffered a relapse.

And his 43-year-old dad said he feared his son’s gambling addiction could lead to the loss of the family home and business.

He said: “We had to make a couple of redundancies. We couldn’t even tell those employees the real reason why this had happened. We felt simply terrible.

“We are lucky that we didn’t lose everything.”

The boy, who has not been named, says he is sorry for what he has done and feels like he has “ruined everything”.

His devastated parents, who run a groundworks firm with a turnover of £30,000 a month, say they will never be able to trust their son again and have been crippled by loans.

They want to warn other families to beware of the dangers of online gambling.

Government regulator the Gambling Commission has said that the number of 16-year-olds addicted to gambling has risen by a third in the last three years.

A cross party group of MPs has written an open letter to Culture Secretary, Matthew Hancock, called for a ban on gambling adverts during live sporting events and before the watershed.

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