An article published in the Times on Sunday 8 October accusing online betting operators of using cartoons to ‘lure kids to online gambling’, has caused the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) to reaffirm its stance on protecting children from betting-related harm.
The article claimed that gambling operators utilised flaws in the guidelines enforced by the UKGC and promoted games that appeal specifically to children.
The article, which also expressed concerns that many of the games don’t require age-verification from players, evoked Tim Miller, executive director, corporate affairs and research for the UKGC, to write an open letter to the newspaper expressing that the regulatory body is “committed to using our powers and our expertise to play our part in creating a safer internet”.
He went on to say: “Parents will understandably be concerned to read about the risks of children being exposed to gambling online.
“Protecting children from being harmed or exploited by gambling is a clear priority for the Gambling Commission.
“Our rules require strong age verification checks to prevent underage gambling; where businesses fail to protect vulnerable people, especially children, we have and will continue to take firm action.
“Our current powers to regulate online gambling have been in effect for just a couple of years; however, the online world is fast moving meaning we constantly monitor the approach we take.
“Earlier this year, we announced that we had commenced a wide ranging review of online gambling.
“At the same time our expert advisers, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, are examining the wider relationship between children and gambling.
“Together these will give a clear picture of where further action may be necessary.
“New technology brings both opportunities but also new risks; earlier this year we successfully prosecuted two YouTube users who were exploiting the FIFA computer game to provide illegal gambling which was accessible to children – the first regulator in the world to bring such action.
“This clash between the world of computer games and the world of gambling is just one example of the need for continuous vigilance when keeping children safe online.”