The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has recently turned up the heat on companies that promote gambling and target minors on social media sites. Facebook, the most popular social media website in the world is now dealing with yet another controversy amidst concerns by parents in regards to their children playing gambling-style apps and games being offered on the social media site with no age verification checks in place.
UKGC Looking At Gaming Operators Who Target Children
Scientific Games, a U.S based company is one of the leaders when it comes to making  fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) has been offering Facebook gambling-style apps without any age verification. This led to allegations that children are being exposed to gambling simulators and being exposed to the risk of gambling addiction. The fixed-odds bettering terminal supplier has a number of popular “social games” that are very popular with the younger generation and is now facing a lot of flak in the UK.
According to the UKGC, children who played social games are likelier to bet real money on adult gambling products when they get older. The Gambling Commission report singles out social gaming as among the emerging dangers for gambling addiction in the youth.
Earlier in December, the Gambling Commission warned that 60,000-plus children were either addicted to gambling or have risks in becoming hooked to gambling. Experts like Nottingham Trent University’s Professor of Behavioral Addiction Mark Griffiths caution that games that mimic real-life gambling serve as the “number one risk factor” for gambling issue development in adulthood.
Gambling Themed Apps by Scientific Games
It is no secret that Scientific Games has developed some of the most popular online casino games in the world and has also provided Ladbrokes with hundreds of FOBTs. The company has a reputation for being one of the top gambling developers in the world and that’s another reason why it is facing a lot of heat for its social games which have a strong gambling theme to it.
One of several gambling-themed games by Scientific Games is the innocuously titled “OMG! Kittens”. Some of their other games that appeal to the younger generation include a Flintstones-themed game and a Rapunzel-themed fairytale game as well. There is also the Jackpot Party Casino Slots from Scientific Games which has a Toys for Tots game that is popular with children.
‘Toys for Tots’ has a Christmas theme to it and is filled with a number of exciting toys that appeal to children. This design and imagery encourage children to play the game and also provides them with the incentive of getting free coins along with multiple coin packages they could buy.
Although, Jackpot Party Casino Slots isn’t technically a gambling product because no money is won or lost with a game of chance, the app still invites users to buy coins for its casino-style games. The UKGC is concerned that such games will induce underage gamblers to take the first step towards gambling for real money.
Scientific Games to their credit have a disclaimer in the terms and conditions which state that the game is aimed at people over 21 years of age. However, the problem with these social games is that there is no provision for an age verification check to be conducted. These games also make it possible to buy coins from a mobile phone, with the price of such coins put on a monthly contract.
Deeply Worrying Trends with Gambling-Based Social Games
Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour party initiated a party review of gambling policy due to these concerns. In a statement, Watson said “It is deeply worrying that games designed to get children in the habit of gambling are being marketed and played online.”
Watson further claims that Scientific Games has deliberately targeted the youth with its gambling-based social games. He also called on Facebook to investigate these games on its platform then remove them for good measure.
Meanwhile, the Gambling Commission’s Executive Director Tim Miller wants the social gaming industry to apply the same amount of foresight and jurisprudence by listening to parental concerns regarding the safety of their children from gambling exposure. The Commission is paying careful attention to children in the U.K and the risks they are exposed to with regards to the gambling industry.
Scientific Games creates gambling software for a number of United Kingdom firms, including Paddy Power Betfair, Betfred and William Hill. The company is yet to respond to these allegations made by the UKGC.

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