A recent study made by the Gambling Commission
in the UK has shown that there are across the UK children as young as 11 that have problems with gambling. In total there are around half a million kids that have confirmed to be gambling regularly.
The children that have problems with gambling are in the age range between 11 and 16 and in the last two years alone have increased more than 50,000. The reason for such an increase seems to be linked with 'subtle' gambling advertising messages on games. It is stunning to see that more children had placed a bet than any other illegal activities for kids, like drinking for instance.
'If there is a clear link between gaming and gambling, it is also worth considering that in the UK lots of gambling ads are currently being broadcast around top sportive events. Surely this will have an impact on children that are expected to be watching TV during those times' said Ethan Rowe chief editor of a UK Casino Bonuses
What is the link between gambling and gaming?
In the UK it is illegal for young people to be involved in gambling activities and operators are risking to see their license revoked if they allow any underage person to bet.
More and more children, however, are spending a considerable amount of time playing computer games and while they do so, they usually are connected to the internet. Games should be gambling free but, as the UK Gambling Commission, has suggested in their study, gaming could be a way for underage to be introduced to betting. How? With a tool cool 'loot boxes' which have been added in many video games and also on apps.
Star Wars Battlefront 2, for example, had several controversial loot boxes that could have been acquired by players. EA, which is the software company that created the game, also made them available for free by anyone that was just playing the game.
Most people believe that skins betting and loot box features are some sort of 'soft' gambling. Skins are objects that can either be won or that can be bought during a game to change a character, an avatar or a weapon. There are some websites where players can trade, sell their skins or even bet on to try getting better ones. This is what is called skins gambling, and it has raised concerns as effectively this is open to children, and it is a way to introduce them to betting.
It will only be legal if those sites that are offering skins betting facilities had a proper UK Gambling Commission license and wouldn't allow children to take part. The Gambling Commission study though found that, in fact, more than one in ten 11 to 16 years old kid has taken part in skins gambling in the past.
Loot boxes, on the other hand, allow players to pay, most of the time real money, to get a chance of winning a virtual item. There are rising concerns as this is a very close form to gambling as the player is risking something that has value (it could be real money or game credits) hoping to win something in return. Even in those cases where the player is not spending real money, it should still count as gambling also because it does encourage that risk-taking behaviour that can potentially harm a kid later on in life.
Since those gaming features are very borderline charities and gambling organisations in the UK have started campaigning to regulate what it is at the very least concerning grey-zone. New rules should be made to clarify what should be and shouldn't be proposed to children and what could be the harm of those 'new' types of games. As things stand loot games and skins games do not have restrictions in the UK and if you couple this with the increase in children gambling than it doesn't make it a positive reading at all.