UK Gambling Sees Allegations Of Online Impropriety
The UK based newspaper; the Sunday Times has online gambling operators up in arms over a supposed investigative piece published in their paper. They have made apparently baseless accusations that online gambling operators are purposefully marketing to children, but in such a way that they will not evoke the ire of the local gambling and marketing watchdogs, the Advertising Standards Authority and the Gambling Commission.
In their investigation, the Sunday Times said that many online slot games made use of animated characters, both original and based on children’s stories. This lead to children being attracted to these games and becoming hooked. They also added that online slots can be played at many online casinos for free so a player would not necessarily need to go though ID checks or registration steps.
Some slots that came under scrutiny include Peter Pan, Jack and the Beanstalk and Moon Princess. Operators in the UK have outright denied these allegations. Despite this the Advertising Standards Authority has said that they will be investigating these allegations.
The British Gambling Commission sent an open letter to the Sunday Times and said that they take the allegations very seriously and will be looking into them, but their director Warwick Bartlett had other opinions.
Bartlett pointed out that advertising is very expensive so when operators do advertise they hope to see some serious returns for their investments. They will directly measure the success of an ad campaign by comparing the cost of the campaign to the number of new member registrations they receive as a result.
Since children, or rather minors are not able to register any real money account with any online casino, it does not make any sense to market to children. Minors cannot provide any returns to an online casino so any marketing aimed at them would simply be wasted.
He also went on to say that the use of cartoon characters is simply to make games fit a certain style or design. Adults appreciate animated characters as much as kids too. He went on to cite the success of Disney and Pixar animated films amongst both children and adults.
Industry expert and consultant Steve Donoghue said that the issue of parental negligence is being completely ignored in this case. If online operators need to take unreasonable steps to make sure that children are not attracted to or can gain access to free online slots, then surely there needs to be an investigation of the role the children’s parents must play in preventing exposure to inappropriate online content. For now, the investigation continues.
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