he figures were a result of a new survey of nearly 9,000 children across England, Scotland and Wales. The 2008-09 British Survey of Children and Gambling was carried out by Ipsos MORI's Social Research Institute and the Centre for the Study of Gambling at the University of Salford, on behalf of the UK National Lottery Commission.
According to the report, only 2% of children said they had played with their own money in the past seven days on lotto, down from 5% in 2006, while 4% of children claimed to have bought scratchcards, down from 6% in the previous year and a high of 9% in 2000. Just 1% said they had tried other lottery games compared to 6% in 2006.
Online restrictions preventing children from accessing interactive lottery games appear to have been even more successful. Out of 96% of children who had been on the Internet in the past week, 27% had made a purchase online but only 0.3 % of children claimed to have spent money on National Lottery games.
"This continuing decline in underage play shows that an effective regulatory framework together with a socially responsible operator makes it very difficult for children to access National Lottery products," said Dr Anne Wright CBE, Chair of the National Lottery Commission.
"But there is no room for complacency – we need to continue to identify ways to prevent the small percentage of children who claim to be playing from accessing games. We will look carefully at the research findings and continue to work with Camelot to see where we might make these controls even more effective to maintain the downward trend."
Under the current regulatory framework, Camelot has introduced a set of child protection measures to prevent underage National Lottery play including a test purchasing programme for retailers, restricting access to free to play online games, stringent registration requirements for interactive play and tools to assess the potential appeal of games to those who are under sixteen.
One area highlighted by the survey was the link between those children playing free practice gambling games online and those gambling with real money offline.
28% of twelve to fifteen year olds said they had played free or practice gambling games on the Internet in the past seven days, with the highest number playing free gambling games on social networking sites such as Bebo and Facebook.
The survey found that 56% of children who had gambled with their own money in the past week had also played free online gambling games, underlining the importance of the decision by the National Lottery operator to remove free trial games from the open area of its website in 2008 to prevent underage players accessing these games.
There has also been a significant fall in the numbers of children who were classified as problem gamblers, down from 3.5% in 2006 to 2% this year, while the number of children attempting to buy lottery tickets also fell from 9% to 3%.
"This research adds to a growing body of evidence collected by the National Lottery Commission over the past decade that suggests rates of underage gambling are falling," said Julia Pye of Ipsos MORI’s Social Research Institute,
"At the same time, children are obviously highly aware of gambling and the National Lottery, and of gambling advertising generally. There are lots of interesting findings emerging from the research around what children think and know about gambling, as well as their gambling experiences, that should help regulators continue to restrict levels of underage play."