ASA Investigates Four Online Gambling Operators for Featuring Children-Appealing Gaming Content

Four UK-licensed gambling operators are currently having their advertising activities examined by the Advertising Standards Authority for promoting casino games that are likely to appeal to children, The Sunday Times reports.

The ASA has opened a review into the four companies following a complaint from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling. The complaint included M88, 138.com, Fun88, and Letou, which are known to be shirt sponsors of four major UK football clubs.

The ASA is set to conduct an investigation into the advertising activities of the four gambling operators in order to determine whether online casino games such as Santa Paws and Fairytale Legends are aimed at children.

Letou was the only operator of all four to provide comments on the matter, telling The Sunday Times that customers can play games on its website only after they have verified their age.

Online gambling operators usually offer free versions of popular casino games to attract players. Many of the games feature popular cartoon characters and fairytale themes that are feared to be particularly attractive to children and to be trivializing gambling among the most vulnerable members of British population.

Last year, the UK Gambling Commission ordered its licensees and their third-party advertising partners to remove all promotional materials that could lure children into the world of gambling. The Sunday Times reports that there are still gambling websites that feature content that could target children.

Children’s Commissioner Calls for Crackdown

Earlier this month, Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, called for the implementation of new rules that would make it more difficult for minors to access gambling-related websites and free-to-play content.

According to the official, the effortless access to such games could trigger the worst kinds of addiction among children and young people, as they normalize gambling in the eyes of this demographic group.

A recent report commissioned by the UK Gambling Commission showed that over 370,000 children of age 11 to 16 gamble weekly. The research further said that around 25,000 children are addicted to gambling or suffer from a gambling-related issue, and another 36,000 are at risk of becoming gambling addicts.

On Thursday, the UK Gambling Commission presented proposed changes to the Licence conditions and codes of practice (the set of rules each UK-licensed operator must comply with). Said changes are particularly focused on regulations concerning “marketing and advertising, unfair terms, and complaints and disputes”.

The gambling regulator also invited gambling customers, operators, industry stakeholders, and members of the public to participate in a consultation period, which allows them to voice their opinion on the proposed reforms. Interested parties will have until April 22, 2018 to provide comments on the changes that might take place in the UK online gambling sector, which has recently become the largest one within the nation’s gambling industry.

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