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Voice of Sunday People: Government must act on scourge of young gambling addicts

For most of us, gambling is just an occasional flutter at the bookies, a couple of quid on the Lottery or the thrill of a punt on the National.

But there is a darker side of gambling, and it’s just got darker.

The NHS has been forced to set up the first child gambling clinic. For addicts as young as 13.

The gambling scourge which blights so many lives has reached a younger generation, with kids losing up to £100,000 each.

Youngsters hooked on football bets and web casinos are being referred to the National Problem Gambling Clinic, many with gambling debts of more than £20,000.

Those who reach its doors are just the tip of a very dangerous iceberg. Up to 55,000 are believed to have a serious gambling problem in the UK.

It is a measure of the despair facing young people without a sense of a future beyond the lure of a screen offering an effortless gateway to unfulfilled dreams of wealth.

Young boys, mostly, stealing from parents, squandering money that is not theirs, trapped in an already ruined future.

This paper has exposed before the plight of addicts whose lives are ravaged – sometimes ended – by the pernicious gambling bug.

It is reckoned that gambling leads to 500 adult suicides a year. That is appalling enough to warrant action in itself.

But when the lives of vulnerable children, not old enough perhaps to know what they are doing, are at stake, is it really not time for players, clubs, bookies to get together and draw a line?

If they don’t, they should face the full penalties that government powers can enforce.

This government must urgently show it has the will to do so.

Rescue us all, Rishi
Just one worker left without the means to get by this winter because of Covid closures and lockdowns is one too many.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has 500,000 on his left-behind list.

That’s the number of self-employed who will be excluded from the latest worker protection schemes.

He and Boris Johnson – the boss he hopes to succeed – have conceded the principle that affected workers need government help.

Include these. That’s what a leader would do, Rishi.