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Children as young as 11 are able to set up accounts and gamble online, a leading children's charity claims. According to NCH, only seven out of 37 gambling sites tested stopped a 16-year-old registering her details online.

The youngster from London was able to lie successfully about her age and register her details on websites using her Solo card, a debit card where each transaction is authorised before being completed.

She was then free to gamble using interactive TV and telephone betting using the same account she had set-up online. The green light for her betting spree came despite websites featuring systems designed to verify people's ages and block under-18s from setting up gambling accounts.

And since Solo cards can be issued to children as young as 11, NCH is concerned that young children could get hooked on gambling.

Said John Carr, NCH's Internet Advisor: "It is shocking that children as young as 11 are able to register with online gambling sites. There are no excuses for this. The technology for these companies to clean up their act already exists. But it is being used by a very small number of the operators we surveyed. We urge everybody to install age verification software as a matter of urgency."

His concerns were echoed by the Minister for Gambling Andrew McIntosh, who described the NCH findings as "very worrying". He warned the gambling industry to get its act together and also said that the banking sector should "take some responsibility too".

A new Gambling Bill scheduled to be introduced in the Autumn is expected to include powerful new protections for children including a requirement that remote gambling sites operating from the UK will, by law, be compelled to make proper age verification checks. ®

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