The UK Gambling Commission has responded in an open letter to an "expose" by the Sunday Times where it is claimed that online gambling sites use cutesy images and kid-friendly games in order to lure underage players.
These outrageous claims were made by Jon Ungoed-Thomas in his October 8th piece entitled "Cartoons Lure Kids to Online Gambling."
The so called investigation piece made the claim that online gambling operators are exploiting loopholes in the country's gambling rules "that allows them to promote games that appeal to children without breaching Gambling Commission rules."
The article totally overlooks the fact that timeless themes and popular characters can - and do - appeal to people of all ages. The same reason why animated movies, comic books and classic tales are also enjoyed by adults...
UKGC Responds to Article
Clearly feeling threatened, the UK Gambling Commission published an almost apologetic-sounding open letter to the Editor of the Sunday Times, following their story on the weekend regarding the risks of children being exposed to online gambling.
The authority said that protecting children from being harmed or exploited by gambling is a priority for the Gambling Commission.
"Our rules require strong age verification checks to prevent underage gambling," it wrote. "Where businesses fail to protect vulnerable people, especially children, we have and will continue to take firm action."
Review of UK Gambling
The UKGC said in its letter that the current powers to regulate online gambling have been in effect for only a couple of years.
"However, the online world is fast moving meaning we constantly monitor the approach we take," wrote the Commission. "Earlier this year we announced that we had commenced a wide ranging review of online gambling. At the same time our expert advisers, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, are examining the wider relationship between children and gambling. Together these will give a clear picture of where further action may be necessary."
UKGC Remains Vigilant
The UKGC went on to say explain how it successfully prosecuted to YouTube users who were exploiting the FIFA computer games to provide child-accessible illegal gambling.
It points to "the clash between the world of computer games and the world of gambling" as just one example of the need to remain vigilant when keeping "children safe online"
The authority promises that it is "committed to using our powers and our expertise to play our part in creating a safer internet."
Gambling Operators on the Radar
According to The Sun, the UKGC has passed on a dossier of 30 online casino games to the country's Advertising Standards Authority for investigation.
Tom Watson, shadow culture secretary has also slammed regulators and operators, saying that the loophole "is ruthlessly exploited by irresponsible bookies and it's one that urgently needs closing."
Watson urged that Commission to "act now" to extend the current ban on targeting games at children to online products.
RGA: Kids Not Deliberately Targeted
The chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, Clive Hawkswood dismissed the ridiculous claims that the gambling industry was deliberately targeting kids.
He said that age verification tests were successfully used by online gambling companies so that the majority of youngsters were automatically prohibited from online betting.
He said that UK gambling operators wouldn't risk their licenses to specifically target children. He also added that the RGA would support a review of rules on the issue.