Is Child Gambling Really a Problem in the UK?



 

Has this Now Become a Major Concern for Parents?


The issue of child gambling was a key part of Labour's recent election manifesto, with deputy leader Tom Watson claiming that developers were using social channels to target children in an unregulated environment. He also highlighted potentially inadequate regulatory measures, and urged the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) to take immediate action.

The issue of social gaming is certainly worthy of further investigation, with a number of casino and gambling-themed apps now accessible through Facebook. U.S. firm Scientific Games, who have earned publicity for providing fixed-odds betting terminals(FOBTs) to Ladbrokes, have also created a number of these games for the social media giant, many of which include children’s cartoon characters like the Flinstones.

These games are also based on popular fairytale narratives and childlike themes, while festive features such as Jackpot Party Casino Slots have also replicated corporeal casino games in a supposedly fun and interactive environment that appeals to children.

This is arguably concerning enough for parents, but the situation arguably appears more worrying thanks to the widely accessible nature of casino-themed social titles. After all, these apps can currently be enjoyed without the need for age verification, or any viable way of regulating user behaviour. Given that individuals can legally open a Facebook account at the age of 13, this means that a potentially huge number of youngsters are at risk of becoming vulnerable gamblers in the long-term.


How Can this Issue be Resolved?


The child-orientated nature of these apps and the lack of age verification certainly represents a major issue, and one that has brought the notion of child gambling to the fore in the UK. The government is already calling on social media giants Facebook to investigate these games and their placement on the platform, while others have suggested that these titles should be removed completely.

Although the site is unlikely to consider hiking the minimum age requirements for users, it may also be encouraged to integrate additional security features to help protect potentially vulnerable and under-age gamblers.

The news has also come at the worst possible time for the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), who have committed to the protection of vulnerable gamblers as part of its core strategy for the next four years.

Similarly, the UK regulator is also facing calls to regulate the deployment of loot boxes in video games, and it will undoubtedly come under pressure to investigate social gaming and implement measures that safeguard youngsters on social media sites.
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