A report by the charity Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has warned that betting-style features in video games such as “loot boxes” are luring young people into gambling.
The charity’s report called for a wide-ranging review of gambling laws, as it’s estimated that up to 55,000 children in Britain would be regarded as ‘problem’ gamblers.
The RSPH report singled out video games and sporting bodies which are bypassing safeguards intended to protect children. RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said: “Young people have told us that gambling and gambling-like activity are slowly but surely polluting hobbies and pastimes that have traditionally been beneficial to their wellbeing. Today, the vast majority of young people take part regularly in video-gaming and no doubt many will receive video games as Christmas presents.”
“However, we, and the young people we’ve spoken to, are concerned at how firmly embedded gambling-type features are in many of these games. The rise of loot boxes and skin betting have seen young people introduced to the same mechanisms that underpin gambling, through an industry that operates unchecked and unregulated on the back alleys of the internet, which young people can access from their bedrooms.”
Research by charity GambleAware found that two in five young gamers bought loot boxes, and that more than half believed that video games could ‘normalise’ the idea of gambling.
A government report has suggested that sports professionals should be banned from promoting gambling-related activity, and the RSPH wants to go further by banning sports teams from having a betting company as “title sponsor”.
See also: The Problem of Addiction