Video Games with Gambling Mechanics Pose Risks to Children

Video Games with Gambling Mechanics Pose Risks to Children

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2019Tagged: Gaming,

The mobile phone changed society. Today, children have access to games in a manner that older generations never had. One pressing question that comes to mind is why is there no regulation that exists for gambling games for mobile apps and online slots?

Video Games with Gambling Mechanics Pose Risks to Children

One might contend that these are not really gambling activities since no cash is involved. However, all the mechanics of the games are the same. You place a bet and you gamble your play money. You either win or lose. Once your play money is depleted, you either have to watch ads to replenish it or wait for 24 hours to get more chips. In some cases, you have to invite friends to get free chips.

Rules of Restrictions

Regulating bodies are focused on several rules that may not entirely cover gambling in video games. One exception is the use of real cash because it is a direct violation of gaming statutes of countries. Most regulating bodies look at the following:

  • Themes – this is a grey area where gambling falls. A theme is rated as matured if its general content has sex, violence, and aberrational behaviour.

  • Sex – sexual content is extremely monitored. Graphic sex and languages used to depict sex are regulated. In some countries, it is allowed but can only be accessed by people of legal age.

  • Language – curse words and others that may incite anger and discrimination are used to assess if a game is suitable for children.

  • Violence – extreme violence, use of blood, gore and other acts of physical harm may only be permitted for games released with an R Rating.

  • Nudity – anything that shows private parts may be considered as pornography.

  • Drug Use – illegal drugs like marijuana and paraphernalia revolving around drug use are all considered matured content.

The same criteria are used in movies, console video games, and mobile apps. Each country may have a different level of tolerance but they essentially share the same principles. And since the games do not involve real money, game developers enjoy the leniency that regulating boards provide.

In the eyes of the law, the child is not being harmed by betting play money and that the games are nothing but entertainment bordering on luck.

Potential Risks

Studies show that 30% of children who were exposed to games that have the same format and mechanics as gambling eventually grow up to be gamblers. Opponents say that this does not make sense because children who are exposed to violence do not turn out to be killers.

But no one can deny the facts. Most problem gamblers are children who were exposed to parents who also gambled. It is also noted that addiction to it can start at the early age of 10. In fact, a research in Nova Scotia, Canada, showed that teenagers are participating in betting activities three times more than adults.

The results are devastating. Children lose their interest in school, friends, or family. Once they get access to real money, they will find a way to sustain their gambling addiction. This is often the start of their journey to crime.

The biggest risk here is that children’s minds are not yet fully developed for risk-assessment. As such, they do not fully understand the consequence of their actions. The human brain only reaches a point where it can fully assess the risks during the adolescence period.


As parents, you must guide your children when they place bets on games, even if it is just dummy money. You need to remind them that it is just a game and the only reason they have to play that is for entertainment. You are also responsible to watch for signs of children getting addicted to gambling, provided that your child has access to real money. Some of these are

  • Your children have friends who gamble.

  • They are very keen on the results of sports and their excitement is beyond that of a fan.

  • They always ask for money.

  • The lie about where their money goes.

  • They are losing interest in school or they skip classes. Another is when their grades drop.

  • They gamble their lunch money.

Watch for these signs and talk to your children if you see one manifest. Seek professional help from organizations that specialize in a case like this as early as you can.

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