Four online gaming operators licensed in the UK are having to incur their advertising activities being scrutinised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for promoting online casino games expected to appeal to minors.
According to a report in the Sunday Times, the Authority has begun a review of these companies following a complaint made by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling. The four companies are Letou, Fun88, M88 and 138.com. Letou are also well-known shirt sponsors for four major football clubs in the United Kingdom.
What Have the Online Gambling Operators Been Up To?
The ASA is ready to conduct its investigation into the gambling operator’s advertising activities to determine whether or not online casino games like Fairytale Legends and Santa Paws are really aimed at children.
Of all four online gaming operators, Letou has been the only one to provide comment on the investigation, telling news outlets that customers can play games on its website once they have verified their age.
Typically, online gaming operators offer free versions of their most popular or latest casino games to entice players. A lot of the games feature cartoon characters or fairy tale themes that some fear is especially attractive to children and are trivialising gambling among some of the most vulnerable members of our population.
Last year, the UK Gambling Commission ordered licensees along with their third-party advertising partners to remove any and all promotional content that could entice children into the world of online gaming.
Children’s Commission Insists on Crackdown
The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has further called for the implementation of new rules that are set to make it harder for minors to gain access to gambling-related sites and, in particular, free-to-play games.
According to Longfield, the effortless access to these games is likely to trigger the worst kinds of addictions amongst minors, as they normalise gambling amongst this demographic.
A report recently commissioned by the UK Gambling Commission purported that more than 370,000 children between than ages of 11 to 16 gamble every week. Further, the research showed that about 25,000 children are already addicted to online gaming or some form of gambling-related issue, with another 36,000 children at risk of becoming gaming addicts.
The UK Gambling Commission has therefore presented a number of proposed changes to the License Conditions and Codes of Practice. The changes focus mainly on regulations involving advertising and marketing, unfair terms and disputes and complaints.
The regulator has invited UK online casino players, industry stakeholders and online casinos themselves to participate in a consultation period to voice their opinion on the suggested changes.
Those who are interested in taking part have been given until mid-April of this year to submit comments on changes that could occur in the UK online casino sector.