Regulators around the globe join forces to protect children. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is the latest to announce an investigation into the unclear borders of the virtual space. In specific, the watchdog asks for better control of third-party websites. According to the body, these can offer video games to under-aged with content very similar to actual gambling.
So far, over 15 regulators from Europe and the U.S have put their signature on the deal. Their main concern is the increasing chance children have to try gambling-style features in casual games. And so, the kids can gamble funds meant for games only on some website that don’t hold licenses.
In essence, there are two main culprits the regulator focuses on its latest efforts. Skin betting is an activity that, according to a survey, engages 11% of the UK population of ages between 11 to 16. The feature involves skins that players can collect during gameplay. But apart from winning them, they can also be purchased or gambled with. At this point, the child trades a real money skin with a hope of getting a better item.
Another form of gameplay that some describe as an unlicensed form of gambling is loot-boxes. Similarly, to the previous example, players find these virtual items at random. Nevertheless, they can also buy them for real money. So far, so good. But the catch is that the buyer doesn’t know what’s in his box. And that’s the reason where video game critics talk about another form of gambling.
Rapidly Growing Audience
As mentioned, third-party gambling websites are the ones to expect tighter measures. The regulator also called on the gaming industry to do more to keep the rules clear. Additionally, it promises crackdowns and other restrictions for those who fail to follow the rules.
Recent data shows over 30 million users, which is about half of the UK residents, play video games online. In a similar way, a growing group of young people engage with both video games and gambling. And finally, the last fact to take in consideration is the number of British youth addicted to casino-style gambling via video games. A recent study puts it to a staggering 400,000 teenagers in the danger zone.