No Age Checks For Gambling-Style Apps Offered On Facebook Raises Concerns In The U.K.

There are rising allegations in the UK about children being exposed to the risk of addiction of gambling as Facebook is being used to offer gambling type apps without any age checks by a company that is engaged in offering thousands of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

It was noted that over 60,000 children ran the risk of becoming gambling addicts or getting hooked to gambling, by the industry watchdog earlier this month. The “number one risk factor” that has the potential to become the cause of a problem in later life is the real-life gambling mimicking by the games, warned experts.

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, who has launched a party review of gambling policy, said: “It is deeply worrying that games designed to get children in the habit of gambling are being marketed and played online. The company that makes these products is cynically targeting young people, some of whom are at risk of developing gambling addictions later in life.”

In a report this week, the Gambling Commission has singled out the social gaming as being responsible for the emerging risks. Those children who bet money on adult gambling products was most likely to addicted to play social games, found the industry regulator.

“Among young people who have ever played online gambling-style games, a quarter had spent their own money on any gambling activity in the past week, significantly higher than the average of 12% among all 11- to 16-year-olds,” the report says.

In the U.K., over 2 million people had been identified to be either at risk of addiction or problem gamblers, the regulator has previously highlighted to showcase the prevalence of problem gambling among adults.

Because of the fact that no money is lost or won in chances in the Jackpot Party Casino Slots app, therefore this game which is available through Facebook cannot be technically called a gambling product. The game however, urges players to purchase “coins” for using in dozens of other casino-style games that are very similar to gambling products that are only available for adults.

There is no requirement for age verification even though a disclaimer within the app’s terms of service states that the game is for players over 21 years of age.

Bonuses and other perks are offered regularly to players of the game through email reminders which get activated as soon as one registers for the game. Players are invited to “share free coins with your friends so they can win too!” after a “win”.

Tim Miller, the Gambling Commission’s executive director, said: “In regulating gambling, we actively seek views and evidence about the risks children face so we can improve protections, and we think the social gaming industry should do the same, listening to the concerns of parents and others.”

Children were at the maximum risk of turning into problem gamblers due to social games irrespective of such games being hosted on Facebook instead of a gambling site, said Mark Griffiths, professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University.

“What games like these do is behaviourally and socially condition children from an early age to be into gambling,” he said. “The thing about social networking games is that in the end you never lose. They set up unrealistic expectations of what gambling involves. If you win all that virtual money, you might think that if you’d been playing with real money you would have won too.”

(Adapted from Theguardian.com)

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