UKGC Remains Committed to Preventing Children from Online Gambling
An investigation by The Sunday Times found that many games can be played for free without age checks or registration.
Some of the culprits include Moon Princess on the Casinoland website, which has a minimum stake of 20p, rising to a maximum bet of £100. Another was 888 website’s Jack and the Beanstalk game, which had a minimum bet of 20p and a maximum of £200, and Paddy Power’s Peter Pan game.
The Gambling Commission has raised concerned about the practice and confirmed it was reviewing rules surrounded products that may lure kids into online betting. The commission has passed on a Sunday Times dossier of over 30 games to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for investigation.
Around 450,000 children have been found to gamble in England and Wales every week, according to The Gambling Commission. In a report released last year in November, six per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds have betted online using funds from their parents’ accounts.And worryingly three per cent have used their own money in games.
Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson equally slammed regulators and said: “This loophole is ruthlessly exploited by irresponsible bookies and it’s one that urgently needs closing.
The Gambling Commission should act now to extend the current ban on targeting games at children to online products. Betting companies need to acknowledge the harm they are doing by cynically targeting children online and remove these games, many of which can be played for ‘fun’ and without age verification, from their sites.”
Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, which represents the likes of William Hill and 888, said the gambling industry was not deliberately targeting kids.
He said they are working hard to reduce the problem and would support a review of the Gambling Commission code to state that online gambling games should not be of a specific appeal to kids.
However, he raised the issue that is a risk for game-makers in creating games that might attract children, even if they were designed for adults.
He said that age-verification tests were successful and prohibited the majority of youngsters from online betting.
And in cases where money had been gambled by kids after initial registration, it would be returned after more thorough age checks had taken place.
The Advertising Standards Authority currently already advises companies to only release material that doesn’t attract wrong age groups.