The UK newspaper The Guardian, which is becoming well-known for its numerous anti-gambling articles, has focused its latest attack on US developer Scientific Games, pointing out that in addition to providing FOBTs to Ladbrokes and casino games for several online gambling websites, the developer makes a variety of its games available in the social casino gaming sphere, particularly on Facebook.
One of these social gaming apps features theme cartoons that may appeal to children such The Flintstones, while another is themed around the Rapunzel fairy tale and a third is called OMG! Kittens, The Guardian observes.
The newspaper also references SG’s Jackpot Party Casino Slots and a game titled Toys for Tots, and reminds readers that just weeks ago online gambling operators were warned about the unacceptability of such themes following an investigation by the Sunday Times (see previous report).
Canvassing views on the issue, The Guardian obtained a response from deputy Labour Party leader Tom Watson, who condemned the use of themes that appeal to children and their use in the social casino gaming vertical, and urged Facebook to take action.
Our readers will recall that in social gaming real money is not wagered, won or lost because players use virtual money that can be won as prizes or bought.
The Guardian notes that a recent report from the UK Gambling Commission listed social casino gaming as one of the emerging risks in problem gambling, finding that children who played social games were more likely to bet money on adult gambling products.
The newspaper claims that no age verification is required, but that the SG app’s T&Cs advise that the game is aimed at persons over the age of 21years. In testing the app from a mobile phone the newspaper found that there was no barrier to fast registration and the creation of an account, which subsequently generated emailed promotional offers.
Tim Miller, the Gambling Commission’s executive director, said in response to a request for comment:
“In regulating gambling, we actively seek views and evidence about the risks children face so we can improve protections, and we think the social gaming industry should do the same, listening to the concerns of parents and others.”
Facebook and Scientific Games did not respond to The Guardian’s invitations to comment.