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SUNDAY TIMES VICTORY Gambling sites forced to stop luring children

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https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/gambling-sites-forced-to-stop-luring-children-8mfw0dhtp

Britain’s betting industry faces its biggest crackdown on child gambling, with the regulator demanding operators pull hundreds of casino games from their websites after a Sunday Times investigation.

The Gambling Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have joined forces to order online operators to “immediately” remove controversial games that appeal to children.

The games, which use favourite cartoons and characters including Peter Pan, Moon Princess and Jack and the Beanstalk, were exposed this month by the newspaper’s investigation. The stakes are between 1p and £600.

About 450,000 children are gambling in England and Wales every week — more than those who smoke or take drugs — and there is mounting concern of a generation of young people becoming hooked on betting games. Experts say a key risk for children who become problem gamblers is playing online betting games for free.

Lord Sugar, who has called for restrictions on gambling advertising, said: “This is a good move and they must follow it through. We must stop encouraging a gambling culture among young people.”

A four-page letter sent on Friday to more than 450 online gambling operators, including William Hill, 888 and Bet365, demands the removal of the games. The ASA and Gambling Commission letter says the games are classified as advertisements and must comply with Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) rules, which prohibit gambling marketing material of “particular appeal” to children.

The letter, which is also signed by the heads of the CAP and the Remote Gambling Association, which represents operators in the online market, said the casino games for over-18s that had been highlighted were “unacceptable”.

It adds: “The use of particular colours, cartoon and comic book images, animals, child and youth-orientated references and names of games such as Piggy Payout, Fluffy Favourites, Pirate Princess and Jack and the Beanstalk are likely, alone or in combination, to enhance appeal to under-18s.”

It said the operators would face the threat of sanctions unless the games were removed.

The games can be viewed without age-verification checks on the operators’ websites and in many cases are playable for “fun”.

Tom Watson, the shadow culture secretary, said: “The Sunday Times should be congratulated for uncovering the extent to which online games are aimed at children. Regulators have finally been forced to act as a result of its outstanding journalism. They should have taken steps to end this practice earlier.”

The government is also reviewing the maximum £100 betting stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals, the controversial machines in bookmakers described as the “crack cocaine” of gambling.

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling said it was “outrageous” the industry had been allowed to promote games that obviously appealed to children.

The industry denies deliberately targeting children and says robust age-verification checks stop under-18s playing for money.

William Hill said it welcomed the move. Bet365 did not respond to a request for comment, while 888 said it was reviewing the letter.

The Gambling Commission has requested its expert adviser, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, to examine the relationship between children and gambling.

@JonUngoedThomas

 

Next step: Lootboxes?!!

 

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Finally. I'm getting sick of all this degeneracy going unchecked so that some immoral companies can make some more money for their shareholders and board members.

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