How to Prevent Youth from Playing Online

Gambling is an extremely entertaining pastime, and with the advent of the internet, it has become easily accessible to everyone across the world. In fact, in the UK, online gambling has become so popular that there is a new  online casino gambling site being launched almost every day. 

There is, however, a downside to these developments. With online gambling being so easy to access, a greater number of the youth in the UK are beginning to bet online. In fact, according to a report by UK Gambling Commission, nearly half a million children in the country have admitted to regularly gambling online. 

Frightening Statistics

There are some frightening statistics reported by the UK Gambling Commission. Here are some of them:

  • 14% of children between the ages of 11 and 16 had used their own money to bet online in one week. 
  • 39% of the 11 to16 year-olds spent real money on gambling in the last year, of which 6% gambled online using their parents’ accounts.
  • Only 19% of the children surveyed stated that their parents had set stringent and non-negotiable rules about gambling. 
  • Of those surveyed, 1.7% in the age group of 11 to 16 were problem gamblers, meaning that they had already developed an addiction for gambling, and another 2.2% were at risk. 

What is Being Done About Children Gambling Online?

The minimum age for being allowed to gamble legally is 18 – for both live as well as online gambling. All gambling establishments, including online sites, are required to confirm that a person is at least 18 years of age before a person is allowed to gamble. This means asking for a person’s ID verification and other supporting documents. 

In 2019, the UK Gambling Commission announced changes to its online gambling laws to making online gambling safer and fairer – and also more inaccessible to children. The laws were put into effect from May 7. 

  • Age Verification

Old Law: Prior to these changes, online gambling sites were allowed up to 72 hours to verify a player’s age. Until that check was completed, players were not allowed to withdraw their winnings and were required to return bets if it was found that the player was underage. However, they were allowed to deposit money into their accounts and gamble online. 

New Law: With the new laws, the age verification process must be completed even before a player can deposit funds into their online gambling account and begin gambling. 

Added to that, players can now only gamble with on the site with their own money or use a free bonus or bet. 

And finally, players can no longer access free-to-play versions of any online betting games without an age verification being done first. Even though free-to-play versions are not technically gambling, the Gambling Commission feels that children should not have access to such games at all. 

  • Withdrawal Methods

Old Law: One of the major complaints against online casino sites was that they were not being fair to players. Players complained that they were being asked for added ID proof before they were allowed to withdraw their winnings but after they had already made deposits into their accounts. 

New Law: With the new rules, online casinos would now have to:

    • Ensure that all players provide personal information before they are allowed to gamble at all. This information needs to be at least the player’s name, address and date of birth. 
    • Ask for additional information immediately, and not wait till the player has begun gambling on that casino site. 
    • Ensure that all information about their players is as accurate as possible. 

The focus on effective verification has multiple purposes. 

First, these changes in online gambling laws will help online casinos prevent or at least detect criminal activity on their website, since they would have more information about players who use their sites. 

Secondly, customer complaints of unfair treatment would be reduced, since players would already have had to provide their ID information before they invested money on their gambling platforms. 

Thirdly, those who have self-excluded will be identified and be prevented from gambling. Self-exclusion, also called self-banning, is a voluntary process used by a person who has a gambling concern and wants to prevent himself from gambling online. 

According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur, the changes that have been made to online gambling laws with protect not just those who are vulnerable to gambling-related harm, but also children. These changes, he says, will also decrease the risk of gambling-related crimes. 

Penalties for Non-Compliance

The 2005 Gambling Act has laid down a long list of penalties for those who do not comply with UK’s gambling laws. Specifically, for underage gambling, if an underage person is caught gambling, he or she could face a fine of up to £1,000.