Kids ‘getting hooked on gaming machines’

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CHILDREN in South Tyneside are in danger of becoming hooked on gaming machines, a councillor has warned.

The warning came as borough councillors agreed a revised statement of principles for the Gambling Act 2005.

Coun George Elsom, leader of the opposition on South Tyneside Council, raised concerns at a full meeting of the council about youngsters becoming addicted to gambling.

Admission to gaming centres depends on the nature of the establishment.

There are no age limits on family entertainment centres, including ‘penny drops’ and machines where people can win cuddly toys.

But for adult gaming centres where there are jackpot monetary prizes, they need to be 18 or over.

He said: “At what age are children allowed to enter amusement arcades, where their parents sometimes take them in?

“Young children see their parents and it gives them the idea that it’s all right to spend money in these machines.”

Coun Elsom asked at what age children were allowed to use gaming machines in amusement arcades.

He added: “Shouldn’t we be setting a limit of 12 or 13 or whatever?”

Coun Michael Clare, the council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, who moved the report on revisions to the Gambling Act, asked why Coun Elsom had not highlighted his concerns earlier.

He said: “I think it would be helpful to use the consultation process to raise such issues.

“A decent parent should have care and responsibility for a child, and direct children in the opposite direction.”

Coun Clare stressed that part of the report on the revision to gambling legislation did highlight what he called “the vulnerability of children”.

But he promised that Coun Elsom would be given information on the legal age for children to frequent amusement acrades.

To meet the terms of the gambling legislation, South Tyneside Council must protect children and other vulnerable people from being “harmed or exploited by gambling”.

It must also prevent gambling from being a source of crime or disorder or being used to support crime.

The authority must also ensure gambling is conducted in a fair and open way.

The report was accepted by the full council.

Twitter: @terrykelly16