Perhaps due to the dramatic increase in the popularity of online casinos — and online slots in particular — some people are wondering if such casinos are deliberately targeting children.
These people are asserting that casinos are using cartoon and other child-friendly characters to promote their gambling games, such as online slots. They are further asserting that many of these games do not require any kind of registration, nor do they verify the ages of those who play.
Online casinos, unsurprisingly, insist that they are not specifically targeting underage users with their games. But the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGS) recently asked the country’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to investigate 30 online gambling games that could be violating existing gambling laws that prohibit the targeting of children. Included in the games that they want to investigate is a game called Peter Pan offered by an online casino called Paddy Power, a game called Jack and the Beanstalk by a company named 888, and Moon Princess, which is an online game that Casinoland runs.
The UKGS is a government agency in the United Kingdom that regulates gambling in the country. According to statistics that they themselves have complied, in England and Wales alone nearly a half million people gamble every week. Their data further indicates that — among children between the ages of 11 and 15 — a full 6% of them gamble online and do so using money that was in the accounts of their parents. They also believe that 3% of all children in the country have gambled at an online casino with the money of their own.
Tom Watson, who is the shadow Culture Secretary in the British parliament, believes that a number of unscrupulous online casinos are using a loophole in current gambling laws to target children. He further believes that this loophole must be closed immediately. He wants the UKGS to extend the current laws so that they apply to online casinos, in addition to traditional ones. He further wants online casinos to voluntarily rectify the situation, by removing not only games that target children with visual enticements but also games that allow children to play without any type of registration or age verification.
Online gambling has become exceedingly popular in recent years all over the world, but especially in the United Kingdom. It has been estimated that every single minute, people in the UK spend nearly £35,000 playing online gambling games. They have also estimated that roughly one out of 10 people who gamble online are problem gamblers. While these facts certainly concern the UKGS, they are really concerned by the increases of children gambling online.