Online Risks Series #8: Understanding Online Gambling

Many of us were delighted to see the Premier League make its return last night after a 100-day hiatus enforced by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Excitement across social media has been at fever pitch over recent weeks, with leading betting companies using the opportunity to market varying offers and promotions ahead of the kick-off.

But who could potentially be viewing these adverts? What are the consequences? There’s a good chance that your children will be at least subconsciously aware of online gambling within sports, due to shirt sponsorships, television adverts and promotions around the stadiums which our favourite teams play in.

For a young child, it may be difficult to distinguish the difference between the joy of watching a match and then incorporating money into predicting the outcome of it.

What is online gambling?

In succinct terms, online gambling is any form of gambling that is conducted on the internet, and this can include sports betting, virtual poker and casinos. You may think that because of the fact a child isn’t old enough to walk into a bookmakers or buy a lottery ticket, that they are exempt but, in reality, a child has access to gambling at any age.

Figures published by the Gambling Commission in their ‘Young People and Gambling Survey 2019’ showed that 55,000 children in the United Kingdom are classed as problem gamblers, with around one in ten (12%) following gambling companies on social media – this ever increases the risk of the child being exposed to targeted marketing.

Gambling is evolving though and, while more traditional methods will continue to remain prevalent, young people are being exposed to more creative ways of spending money online, for potential personal gain.

‘Loot Boxes’ and ‘Skin Betting’ are prime examples of these, as gaming companies develop ways in which to engage and play their games.

Loot boxes are digital gifts that players have to spend real or in-game currency on to win a reward, however, the rewards are randomised so the player never knows what they will win.

Skin betting on the other hand, affords the player the opportunity to change the look of an item in the game, but doesn’t actually affect the outcome or gameplay experience.

Check out our Loot Boxes & Skin Betting Online Safety Guide to find out more.

What are the associated dangers?

It goes without saying that there can be high financial implications should your child become embroiled in online gambling.

In July 2019, the BBC published a feature which focused on a family who had lost £550 through their children purchasing in-game player packs on the Fifa football video game.

Online gambling can become incredibly addictive too and could have long-lasting affects on the child’s mental health and lifestyle.

Identifying the signs and advice for parents

You may notice that your child has suddenly become secretive about their online activities. This could be completely innocent, but it’s important open up a dialogue around the subject and how they are emotionally.

More tangible examples may include significant monetary gains, which could help fund expensive purchases. Similarly, you may notice your child rapidly loses money or that items are missing from home as they look to fund their potential addiction through other means.

There are ways of preventing your children having access to gambling sites, and you can install specialist software onto devices in order to block these.

Find out more

Part of our Annual Online Safety Course for Parents and Carers 2019-20, our module on the subject of Online Gambling & Skin Betting offers more important information to help protect your children.

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