Thousands of teens lured into blowing £1.4billion on black market online gambling, shocking report reveals

THOUSANDS of teens have been lured into blowing cash on black market online gambling, a report reveals.

Many under-18s were among the 200,000 to have staked £1.4billion on unregulated sites in 12 months.

Children as young as 13 have been hooked into betting winnings from online video games on websites offering casino-style games of chance, like roulette.

Gambling standards chiefs fear a government blitz on licensed betting could drive more young people into the arms of unscrupulous operators.

Licensed firms must check ID, verify age, set deposit limits and intervene when punters spend more cash than normal.

Black market sites have no rules and target under-18s who cannot bet with licensed firms.

The report, by accountancy giant PwC, revealed nearly one in ten gambling search results were for black market sites.

One in 40 betting website visits — 27 million in all — were to dodgy operators.

Michael Dugher, of the Betting and Gaming Council, said figures show the danger of driving punters on to the black market if ministers get the Government’s betting review “wrong”.

He said regulated betting and the gaming industry employs 100,000 people and pays £3.2billion tax a year “so the Government needs to be wary of doing anything that puts that at risk”.

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