The number of children classed as having a gambling problem has quadrupled to more than 50,000 in just two years, a report has claimed. The Gambling Commission study suggests that 450,000 children aged 11 to 16 bet regularly, more than those who have taken drugs, smoked or drunk alcohol. Bets with friends, slot machines, and scratchcards, were most popular. A campaigner on the issue, Bishop of St Albans Right Reverend Alan Smith, called it a “generational scandal”. “Today’s findings by the Gambling Commission makes worrying reading and serves as a warning to parents,” he said. Some admitted using betting shops or online gambling sites despite them being illegal for under-18s .The analysis also suggests one in seven boys followed betting brands on social media. The commission also raised concerns that close to a million young people had been exposed to gambling through “loot boxes” in video games or on smartphone apps. These can involve a player paying money for an item that is only revealed after purchasing. The report was based on an Ipsos Mori study of 2,865 11 to 16-year-olds carried out between February and July.