The gambling industry in the United Kingdom (UK) has grown at a rapid pace during the last five years as both live betting and online betting operators have witnessed an increase in revenue. However, the increase in gambling revenues has also corresponded with an increase in problem gambling and in particular an increase in the number of minors having access to gambling websites or mobile apps.
Gambling Commission Finds Skin Betting Luring Children
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has had to deal with growing concerns that children in England, Wales and Scotland were being exposed to gambling related activities and a large percentage of children were regularly playing either free to play or real money games. The UKGC recently completed its annual gambling survey and found that its concerns over children gambling regularly had a lot of substance to it.
Skin Betting is the latest fad to have captured the attention of children in the UK. Skin betting is where players can use real money to purchase items in a video game which can then be wagered or sold for real cash. A number of online gambling operators have built online games revolving around skin betting video games and are able to lure children to bet real money.
The UKGC survey found that 45 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 11 to 16 were aware of skin betting. Boys were more likely to engage in skin betting as 59 percent of them knew what skin betting was while only 31 percent of girls claimed to know what skin betting was. The survey also showed that 11 percent of those between 11 to 16 years of age had placed bets on in-game items.
Students Accumulating Massive Gambling Debt  
The survey found looked at 370,000 children between the ages of 11 to 16 had spent real money on gambling during the last week (based on when they were surveyed). Skin betting can come across as relatively harmless and parents usually don’t pay a lot of attention to what video games they children are playing because they are not aware of the gambling component available within the game.
Skin betting allows bettors to collect skins by winning points or reaching different levels. They also have the option of using real money to purchase skins within the game. These special skins are alluring because they allow players to take their skin and then turn an ordinary hand gun into a golden gun with special features that allows them to perform better within the game.
Players like to collect as many skins as they can and know that rare skins can fetch a better price. A number of online gambling websites allow players to bet their skins in exchange for a certain amount and then use it to gamble.
A prime example of this is the Counter Strike: Global Offensive game. Known as CSGO amongst players, the game has multiple weapons such as a knife which can be bought for £1,000. Players can use real money to buy a weapon in CSGO – the weapon is also referred to as a skin.
Once they obtain a CSGO skin, players can go to online gambling websites that accept CSGO skins and then gamble for money using their skin.
UKGC Promises To Tighten Regulations
In a statement, Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said “Because of these unlicensed skin betting sites, the safeguards that exist are not being applied and we’re seeing examples of really young people, 11 and 12-year-olds, who are getting involved in skin betting, not realising that it’s gambling”.
Most children tend to use their parents credit or debit cards and some use digital wallets such as PayPal and Skrill. There are other students who have admitted to taking out student loans and then spending the money on skin betting or online gambling.
The problem that the UKGC now faces is that it has measures in place to prevent minors from walking into a betting shop on the street but is struggling to impose the same restrictions on online gambling websites and mobile apps as there are too many loopholes to address. The UKGC has promised to come up with regulation to address minor gambling in the country and has called on parents to be more vigilant.

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