The UK’s Gambling Commission have published a report saying that 11% of 11-16 year olds have gambled with in-game items, and explained why it now going to be monitoring the practice in its future annual reports. The report also revealed that 0.9% of 11-16 years olds in the UK are problem gamblers.
In a new section of its annual report, titled “Betting with in-game items on computer games/apps”, the Gambling Commission explained why it is now monitoring how many children are gambling with in-game items:
“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 licence is required. Tackling operators making gambling facilities available to children is one of the Gambling Commission’s priorities. This has been demonstrated by action taken against unlicensed websites providing facilities for gambling using in-game items as methods for payment.”
So, if a game item can be turned into cash and there’s a site that lets you gamble with those items, then the Gambling Commission thinks that site needs a gambling license.
The report goes on to chart just how many children are aware of and using skin-betting sites. According to the report, 45% of 11-16 year olds knew that you could bet with in-game items and 11% had done so. There’s a disparity between boys and girls in this, with 59% of boys knowing you can bet with in-game items and 20% having done so, whereas among girls, 31% responded saying they knew you could gamble with items and only 3% having done so. And, compared to respondents who had gambled with their own money, more children had tried gambling with in-game items.
Speaking to the BBC, 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.
"At one level they are running up bills perhaps on their parents' Paypal account or credit card, but the wider effect is the introduction and normalisation of this kind of gambling among children and young people."