The All Bet's Are Off team are extremely passionate about protecting our future generations from gambling harms. In recent years we've seen an exponential rise in children gambling and so with that in mind we have created this page. Here we provide some suggestions on safeguarding minors from developing an unhealthy relationship with gambling.
The bright lights of the fairground and arcade can provide a perfect sanctuary for hours of family fun on any given weekend across the length and breadth of the UK - especially on those seaside holidays. However, some disordered gamblers identify that this is where it all began for them and so, whilst we do not profess to being neuroscience experts, we would encourage parents and guardians to try and keep their children on the virtual games rather than a £5 jackpot fruit machine and other gambling machines. Inadvertently massaging those gambling related senses from such an early age can have a profound impact later on down the line.
MOBILE PHONE APPLICATIONS
To download applications onto a smart phone you must link a valid debit or credit card to the app store. Should your child have a smart phone, or you're considering purchasing one for them, then we would advise that you link the app store to a debit card that doesn't have much of an available balance - or nothing at all. A lot of games are free to download but may include in-game purchases. Take the 9 Ball Pool application as an example; the user chooses how many 'virtual coins' they wish to bet on their next match and they can then buy more of these virtual coins for real money. If your child needs to make a purchase of any kind from the app store they can always ask you to transfer money into the account of the linked debit card, thus allowing you to make an informed decision.
'Loot boxes' are prevalent on video games despite increasing concerns over the early exposure of children to gambling. Popular games such as Fortnite and FIFA, among many others, include the loot box function that enables the player to purchase virtual bundles of random items with real money. A 2018 survey by the Gambling Commission found that 31% of children aged 11-16 had paid for loot boxes. Research is ongoing with regards to loot boxes but some studies do seem to suggest that there is a link to problem gambling.
This one is a relatively new phenomenon surrounding virtual currency betting and it is estimated that 1 in 10 children in the UK aged 13-18 have tried it. It is a difficult one to explain but, essentially, skin betting enables the player to convert in-game items into cash, or to trade them for other items of value. Keeping up to speed with trends and understanding threats posed, especially in the ever-evolving online and gaming world which many children immerse themselves in, is an important part of being a parent today. For more information on this we'd recommend reading an article on the Parent Zone website titled 'Skin gambling: teenage Britain's secret habit' (click here to view).
Parental control software is available for free from all the major UK broadband providers - but nowadays things are much more simpler than having to install software on each computer. Router-level controls mean that all devices connected to the home wi-fi will be automatically subject to any blocks set-up. Please note that this will only ever protect you and your children within the confines of your home.
For mobile phones and other devices such as iPad's and tablets we recommend researching other guards and controls to halt inappropriate web content being on display, including gambling websites.
We strongly recommend parents listen to our Protecting Our Future Generations feat. Professor Samantha Thomas & Matt Zarb-Cousin podcast from season one to hear further discussion surrounding this subject. Click here to be taken directly to this episode.
For parents, guardians and youth facing professionals concerned about gambling harm in children and adolescents we recommend that they go and check out BigDeal which is part of GamCare, the organisation that runs the National Gambling HelpLine and NetLine.