Online Gambling Industry Warned Regarding Games That Attract Minors (Update)

Sanctions could follow if companies do not change their apparent targeting, regulators warn

In a sequel to a recent Sunday newspaper investigation that claimed online gambling providers and operators are offering games with themes that appeal to minors (see previous InfoPowa report) the UK regulators and a trade association have communicated with 450 industry companies, warning them that sanctions can be applied if such cases are exposed.

In a joint letter, the UK Gambling Commission, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Committee of Advertising Practice, and the Remote Gambling Association observed that online gambling companies also need to advertise responsibly, quoting the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code, which says that gambling activities must not be advertised in a way that could appeal to under-18s.

Online gambling operators are urged to drop adverts featuring images likely to appeal to children in the letter, which notes that “unacceptable” adverts and third-party media containing graphics and images that are likely to be attractive to minors should be “immediately” removed or amended, especially where these were associated with free and pay-to-play games.

“The use of particular colours, cartoon and comic book images, animals, child- and youth-orientated references and names of games such as ‘Piggy Payout’, ‘Fluffy Favourites’, ‘Pirate Princess’ and ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ are likely, alone or in combination, to enhance appeal to under 18s,” the letter advises.

Tim Miller, executive director at the Gambling Commission, said new technology brought “opportunities but also new risks”, pointing out that Commission regulations require strong age-verification checks to prevent under-age gambling.

“Where businesses fail to protect vulnerable people, especially children, we have and will continue to take firm action,” he warned.