Gambling addiction affects children twice as much as adults, reveals a new survey.
The charity Gamcare estimates that around 60,000 children between the ages of 12 and 15 are addicted to gambling, which is the equivalent of one in 50.
Among the over-16s, there are an estimated 450,000 people with a gambling addiction, a proportion of less than one in 100.
The figures suggest that gambling could become an even bigger issue in the future, as the problem teenagers progress into adulthood.
Many children get hooked on to gambling by spending their pocket money on fruit machines in service stations and amusement arcades.
Playground bets on football results or marbles could also be responsible for igniting an interest among vulnerable children.
Lax checks on age in high street betting shops and online sites fuel the problem by allowing young teenagers to place bets with ease.
"The clinical evidence suggests that among adults some 0.9 percent are problem gamblers, while among children aged between 12 and 15 the proportion is around 2 percent," the Daily mail quoted a spokesman for Gamcare as saying.
"If gamblers start young there is a risk that this could continue into adult life," he added.