The legal age of gambling when you look at UK and Europe and a lot of other places all over the world is 18, and most bookmakers have safeguards and specialist teams reviewing all accounts manually or by automated systems to spot potential underage access currently or underage access that was made previously.
The start of last week was somewhat accusing as the UK national newspaper, The Sunday Times, made a very bold and direct claim that gambling operators were creating games that would appear appealing and as a “draw” to children but fell within the Gambling Commission’s
guidelines and terms, thereby eluding to the operators use and knowledge of a “legal loophole”.
Depending how you look at it, The Sunday Times could well be on to something, or at least a thread that could have some pull left in it – they claim that the use of children’s cartoon, story or other characters in the online games is a subtle but with intent to manipulate and lure minors into the gambling world but remain inside the licensing and regulatory requirements that the UK GC set out.
Even some Disney characters make it into these games, or variations of popular children’s shows in their older forms even though they were aimed at the older audience when older like Adam West’s Batman and more – but the mine gripe, the main platform of this claim is due to the “free play” options allowed on these games meaning that no money is involved, no real-money transactions or gambling, no aversion to KYC or age verification checks as no age limits then apply and, even more so, you don’t need to even login or have an account with that bookmaker to access and play the games on the free play itself.
The free play is for monetary values that aren’t deductible or costly to anyone, hence the “free play”, but the stakes are real monetary figures written for people to see and they do go from as low as 1p and surpass £500.
We referred to characters that would appeal to children and you may have seen or played games on different casino’s that have these themes on many occasions. Characters such as Superman and Batman are very prominent over online gaming as themed slots specifically – although the actual series’ the characters are based on are from when they were targeted to adults, they still are relatable due to the fact Batman & Superman are so popular amongst younger generations.
Peter Pan, Jack and the Beanstalk and more are the other characters.
As you’d expect, the companies housing any or multiple of these themed games in their online repertoire have been quick and steadfast in their opposition to these claims, stating that the games they offer are meant the same as any other game that does not host such opinion-driving themes.
The claims have been met with strong reactions on both sides of the industry – those within it, workers, professionals and companies are all on the same page with their statements about them being games offered for gambling purposes online with the other games, not to attract nor impose upon minors or specific sections of the global population.
From outside the industry it’s quite mixed – some media outlets and civilian representatives agree that this is a case requiring investigation, while others believe that this is a “claim just to make a claim”.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens next as the bold claims are resulting in an investigation from the Advertising Standards Agency and most likely internal investigations or examinations from the Gambling Commission.