Asian children at higher risk in gambling

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New study shows that British Asian children who gamble are twice as likely to become addicted as white children.

The BBC reports that a new study by the University of Salford and the National Centre for Social Research has found that Asian Brits of a certain age are more susceptible to gambling addiction than their white contemporaries.

Nine thousand 11-15 year olds were surveyed in the study, which showed that of the ethnic groups researched, Asians were the least likely to gamble, but those who did had the highest rates of problem addiction.

Children with the highest pocket money were more likely to become addicted, researchers, perhaps not surprisingly, found.

Only 13 percent of British Asian children questioned were found to be regular gamblers, compared to 20 percent overall. But Asians were proportionately at greatest risk of developing addictive and problem behaviour, such as lying to friends and family or using money meant for other things.

Slot machines and betting with friends on cards were the most popular methods of gambling.

Although some games and arcades are for over 18s only, low payout slot machines are legal at any age, the BBC reports.

“In the Asian community there is strong social disapproval of gambling in general,” said Prof David Forrest, who led the research. “This means the minority who choose to gamble are already overcoming a barrier - already suffering a cost in terms of social disapproval.”

“So probably a lot of Asians who gamble are people drawn to risk-taking whereas among whites many players are not candidates for hardened gambling because they’re playing for social reasons rather than a driver in their inner self,” he said.

Prof Forrest said that many adult problem gamblers were found to have started young - some at only eight or nine years old.

Ruth Champion, who helps run rehabilitation courses for gambling addicts says that they are seeing younger problem gamblers more frequently.

“In the last 5 years we’ve seen an influx of people getting into trouble younger because gambling has become more prevalent and accessible,” she said. “We’ve seen our average client age go from late thirties to early twenties.”

Asian Network Report spoke to several young Asian men in Birmingham, aged between 18 and 19, who said that they played on roulette machines several times a week, sometimes losing hundreds of pounds at a time. Some of the men said that they had started gambling years earlier, at the age of around 15 but were now playing regularly and playing with notes rather than loose change.