Gambling and Gaming Online

The Gambling Commission study suggests that “450,000 children aged 11 to 16 bet regularly”.  The commission also raised, “concerns that close to a million young people had been exposed to gambling through ‘loot boxes’ in video games or on smartphone apps”.  According to their research, a young person will spend on average £10 a week gambling.  Internet casinos or gambling sites can quickly turn into a serious problem for many reasons; one being that no physical cash is transacting, and that the person does not see the consequences of gambling when they lose, and therefore cannot physically feel or see the loss.  An addiction to online gambling can have serious consequences, such as dropping grades, mounting bills and debts, and broken relationships.

How to spot if your child has a Gambling or Gaming problem

  • Is your child being secretive with their devices?
  • Does your child seem to be spending a lot more time on their digital devices?
  • Does your child seem to have an interest in sports scores?
  • Has your child been selling personal belongings, or have you noticed some of their personal belongings are missing?
  • Have you been contacted by your child’s school or college regarding Unexplained absences?
  • Have you noticed sudden deterioration in your child’s grades or attention in school or college?
  • Does your child have no explanation for where new items of value in their possession are from?
  • Has your child been borrowing or stealing money?
  • Does your child seem to have a change in personality or behaviour?
  • Has your child begun to withdraw from their family and friends?

How to approach the situation…

If you think your child may have a gambling or gaming problem please get professional advice immediately. Do not try to deal with this on your own, talk to professionals and people you trust about the right course of action for you and your child as you may need a little help too. If you feel like your child is going through a distressing child this can impact on you as a parent and you may also need someone to talk to yourself.

What are Appropriate Age Ratings?

All boxed games, apps and  downloadable games for digital devices including consoles, apps and phones within the UK are given a Pan-Europen Game Information (PEGI)  rating of age 3, 7, 12, 16, or 18.  Games are awarded age ratings for specific reasons.  Age ratings are a helpful guide, but each child is different.  It is useful to consider how mature your child is for their age, and the kinds of content they would feel comfortable with.  The age ratings are there to protect your child.

Why are PEGI Ratings issued?

  • Children may view unsuitable or distressing content.  Age ratings are put on games for a reason, and this is to protect the user.  Age ratings potentially protect children from sexual or violent material.
  • Age ratings can also be set due to in-game content, or even content produced by other players.  Due to communication channels in some games, some players also have the ability to be abusive towards each other, resulting in cyberbullying (Find out more about cyber bullying)
  • Many gaming platforms can allow players to be represented by avatars, which could allow adults to post as children.  It is tough to distinguish who is who online, especially if the game uses avatars (find out more about online grooming).
  • Some children can become angry when asked to stop playing their game or even become a distraction.  This is where a family agreement can help your family create some rules about digital devices.  You can download our digital agreements here, so you can create a digital-real world balance and enhance quality time online.
  • Take a look at our Parental Control and Privacy page to find out how you can protect your child online.

UK Gambling Legislation

According to the Gambling Act of 2005, the Gambling Commission has the authority to issue a license to gambling operators, and enforce fines or retract licenses if necessary. The act states the purposes of the Gambling Commission are as follows:

  • Preventing gambling from becoming a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder, or being used to support crime.
  • Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way.
  • Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
  • When it comes to providing online gambling services to UK residents, only companies whose operations are based in the UK can be issued with licenses by the Gambling Commission.

The organisation has a whitelist of permitted gambling jurisdictions and operators.  Those who obtain licenses from within those jurisdictions may also service UK customers.  Find out more about gambling legislation.

Who can you contact if your child has a gambling & gaming addiction?

If you feel like your child is in imediate danger, please dial 999 or the relevant professional body. To find out more information from the following organisations, click on the buttons below.

Need help with any other digital issues?  Find out more.

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