According to a report from the Daily Mail tabloid newspaper in the UK, a third of online gambling websites allow players that are under the age of 18 to place bets.
The newspaper quoted an investigation conducted by the Gambling Commission that allegedly discovered just over 33 percent of online casinos and bookmakers had 'deficiencies' that could enable youngsters to gamble over the Internet.
There are some 164 firms licensed to operate about 250 websites in the UK and these must conduct stringent checks under the Gambling Act, which came into force in 2007, in order to prevent under-18s from playing online.
The Daily Mail reported that the Gambling Commission's figures emerged during a Parliamentary answers session and had been compiled using information on debit cards belonging to under-18s.
“There is a massive danger that this will fuel a huge increase in under-age gambling addiction,” said Don Foster, Culture Spokesman for the Liberal Democrats.
“It is obvious that the safeguards put in place by the Government and the statements made about responsible gambling in relation to the Internet are totally bogus,” the newspaper quoted Dr Emanuel Moran, an adviser on gambling to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
“We are in danger of allowing a generation of children to become addicted to gambling.”
However, the Gambling Commission stated the websites may only have failed one of a series of checks meaning that other safeguards may have caught under-18s and stopped them from gambling.
“The majority of the tests showed that policies and procedures to prevent children from gambling on remote sites are effectively in place,” said Gerry Sutcliffe, the Government’s Minister for Sport and Tourism and the man leading the current consultation on a proposed levy for operators in order to fund the treatment of gambling addictions.