Are Children Gambling On The Net With Help From Games Firms?

Children Gambling

Whilst gambling online at sites like BetVictor is now all but ubiquitous for the adult population children gambling anywhere is still considered taboo, however this Halloween with the big games makers facing massive rising costs in development of ever grandiose games does their new loot-boxes-for-cash revenue stream scheme amount to encouraging kids to gamble? We take a look.


  • Loot boxes – are they lucky dip or just a wager?
  • Can parents monitor micro-transactions effectively?
  • Is real worlds cash for virtual rewards a step too far?
  • Do games makers lack morals and social responsibility?


We introduce children to the concept of gambling early on in life one way or another. In my case I can remember the thrill of the bran barrel lucky dip at a jumble sale in Ruardean, now over forty years ago, when I had a pudding bowl haircut and a purple velour jumper. I don’t recall my prize that day (it was the 70s so it was probably a fondue set or electric carving knife) but I suspect somewhere even now there are children gambling without realizing it as they delve into the sawdust seeking badly wrapped rewards.


Given everyone wins in a lucky dip some might argue this is not children gambling, but just a piece of fun, however, it is only the adults that believe this, the children, aware of just how lame some of those prizes are, quickly gain a firm grip on winning and indeed losing as they unwrap their mystery reward. None of the smirking indulgent parents would believe this harmless piece of fun should be covered by UK gambling laws in the same way using BetVictor etc is, but the kids might not necessarily agree.


Children Gambling on the Net

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“It is literally, exactly, a slot machine. They’re all based on the same basic fundamental behavior pattern: When people cannot predict how much they’re going to get, they often get very focused and fixated on it, and want to do it over and over again, past the point of rationality.”

Gabe Zichermann – Gaming addiction expert.

One of the reasons this early-access version of children gambling was so easily dismissed is that there was nowhere to progress to, the high street bookmakers would have given short shrift to any young teen looking to wager their cash on the 3:30 at Epsom, and even the modern day websites like BetVictor have protections in place to prevent those under age from using their systems to game. It’s just a shame those are not the only games in town in these days of the internet and video game makers.


Online video games often reward performance with a random prize of some form, a new piece of bling, a bigger sword, some sort of points bonus, and in many of these games micro-transactions allow the exchange of real world cash for pieces of equipment, World of Warcraft the obvious example. However in Forza Motorsport 7, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, and indeed Star Wars Battlefront II things are different, and there will be children gambling every bit as much as those adults that like to bet on sports in the UK.

Children Gambling on the Net

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“Loot boxes are effectively an SOS from the industry. The business models that we have do not work.”

Rami Ismail – Developer.

The issue is exchanging real world cash for a mystery prize box, card or reward. The games manufacturers, in a desperate attempt to wring as much money out of gamers as possible are, in effect, creating an environment where children gambling will be as everyday as putting a five on the EPL at BetVictor is for adults. With their social lives already scored in likes and retweets and the hugely competitive nature of a kid on a computer game, this is a dangerous addition to the internet.


This is, of course, dismissed by the game makers and gaming authorities as alarmist, writing it off as not being children gambling but just another form of lucky dip, however the teens that will throw money, real money, at this new opportunity won’t see it that way. Anyone in the UK gambling news headlines in the tabloids will prevent this stealthy introduction of children to gaming with cash doesn’t understand how big and powerful the games industry is, and just how greedy and unscrupulous they really are.

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