Have you ever found a website or a gambling machine that was all too obviously aimed at children? British regulators surely have. The Gambling Commission of the country and advertising overseers have commanded more than 450 gambling sites to “immediately” remove casino games that they say are targeting the crowd of the under-18. According to an official letter, the cute characters, cartoonish graphics, and even game names such as Piggy Payout work as gambling advertising that is “likely” to appeal to kids. And these are not just free titles as bets range as high as £600 which about $792, so this could be especially damaging if a child got access to these games.
The said crackdown follows an investigation by the Times that exposed gambling sites taking advantage of a “loophole” that they believed allowed them to produce child-oriented games without violating the rules of the Gambling Commission. They made use of age verification checks for anyone who wished to play for money. However, users could play for free without any type of checks. And that is where the problem was as the free-to-play experience was an effective sales pitch, even if it was only to sell young visitors on the idea of gambling.
Some in the industry have denied the allegation of intentionally marketing to children. However, they do not all object. William Hill, one of the sites that were asked to take down some casino games, is accepting the order. It is not difficult to comprehend why it might help in the long run. Even though this will eliminate more than a few games, it could push gambling companies (including those that are beyond the United Kingdom) to reform their image by focusing their attention on adults. Whatever short-term losses they experience might be more than offset by the decreased amounts of bad press and legal scrutiny.