Skin Gambling Under The Spotlight Again

Latest UK Gambling Commission report ignites mainstream press coverage

The UK mainstream press has been having an anti-gambling field day following the release of the latest UK Gambling Commission report on Young People and Gambling, which examined “awareness and participation rates” of skin gambling by minors in video games.

InfoPowa readers will recall that skins are cosmetic changes to a player’s in-game weapons, accoutrements and accessories which can be won or purchased in-game. However, players have quickly discovered that skins can be gambled and exchanged for money in unregulated third-party digital marketplaces, accessible from the UK.

The UKGC report notes that based on the description provided by its researchers 45 percent of respondents aged 11-16 knew about skin gambling, and 11 percent said they had placed bets with in-game items at some point in the past.

That comment alone was bound to trigger concerns regarding the introduction of gambling to children at an early age.

The Commission further reported that the prevalence of gambling with in-game items increases with age, from three percent of 11 year-olds to 14 percent of 14-16 year-olds, and was higher among children who had spent money on other forms of gambling over the past week, or who had played “online gambling-style games,” like casino games, slot machines, or poker.

In fact, the rate of playing those games matches the incidence rate of skin gambling at 11 percent, and some observers have pointed out that whilst the number is correct within the parameters of the survey, it does include all forms of gambling, including slot machines, scratch cards, and wagers with friends.

Commenting on its findings, the Commission observed:

“The Gambling Commission takes the view that the ability to convert in-game items to cash, or to trade them (for other items of value) means they attain a real-world value and become articles of money or money’s worth. Where gambling facilities are offered to British consumers, including with the use of in-game items that can be converted into cash or traded (for items of value), a gambling license is required.

“Tackling operators making gambling facilities available to children is one of the Gambling Commission’s priorities.”