Users of these websites can gamble on the outcome of video game tournaments (eSports) with in-game items such as decorative digital guns, knives and protective armour (items commonly known by gamers as ‘skins’). A report published in the US estimates that the global ‘skins’ gambling market to be worth as much as $5 billion (2016 figure).
There is a real danger that you could be giving money to your children thinking that they are playing a computer game, when they are in fact gambling. Not only is this promoting addictive and harmful behaviour in minors (children as young as 11 are reported to have been using the sites), but they will be using your credit card to place wagers (up to thousands of pounds).
Successful prosecutions have already taken place in the UK by the Gambling Commission, against operators of such illegal sites, including one associated with popular FIFA games.
How to safeguard your child against video game gambling
- Talk to your child about the dangers of gambling and its negative outcomes in a language appropriate to their age
- Ensure that online games your children wants to play are appropriate to their age
- Research the games they want to play – including whether they have chat forums which could lead them into inappropriate behaviour including gambling and grooming
- Use internet filters to block inappropriate websites
- Use parental safety software / apps to block inappropriate internet use and monitor your children’s online activity
- Under no circumstances enable children to access your credit card details