UKGC reiterates commitment to protecting children
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has moved to outline its commitment to protecting children from betting-related harm after a newspaper accused some major operators of deliberately targeting youngsters.
In an article published the Sunday Times on October 8, the newspaper said that a number of betting companies are using popular cartoon characters in marketing campaigns to attract children to their online gaming services.
The newspaper said its investigation found that operators are using a loophole in the rules, enabling them to promote children-appealing games without actually breaching regulation.
In addition, the Sunday Times said that a number of these games are accessible without the need for registration or age-verification.
Tim Miller, executive director, corporate affairs and research for the UKGC has since responded to the report with an open letter to the editor of the publication, saying the national regulatory body is “committed to using our powers and our expertise to play our part in creating a safer internet”.
Miller’s letter added: “Parents will understandably be concerned to read about the risks of children being exposed to gambling online.
“Protecting children from being harmed or exploited by gambling is a clear priority for the Gambling Commission.
“Our rules require strong age verification checks to prevent underage gambling; where businesses fail to protect vulnerable people, especially children, we have and will continue to take firm action.
“Our current powers to regulate online gambling have been in effect for just a couple of years; however, the online world is fast moving meaning we constantly monitor the approach we take.
“Earlier this year we announced that we had commenced a wide ranging review of online gambling.
“At the same time our expert advisers, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, are examining the wider relationship between children and gambling.
“Together these will give a clear picture of where further action may be necessary.
“New technology brings both opportunities but also new risks; earlier this year we successfully prosecuted two YouTube users who were exploiting the FIFA computer game to provide illegal gambling which was accessible to children - the first regulator in the world to bring such action.
“This clash between the world of computer games and the world of gambling is just one example of the need for continuous vigilance when keeping children safe online.”
Related article: GambleAware criticises industry over safe gambling strategies