SOGG PRAISES GOVERNMENT PLANS TO REMOVE GAMBLING FROM VIDEO GAMES

Media Contact:Adam Bradford, tel: 07950 313113, adam@saferonlinegambling.org or Rodney Levine-Boateng at 100 Acres Media tel: 07578 639284, rodney@100acres.com

Today MPs have argued that so-called ‘loot boxes’ in video games for children should be regulated under gambling law and banned from children. 

The feature, which allows players to stake real money for better weapons, player upgrades and gaming add-ons, has been dubbed as simulated gambling by campaigners which is fuelling a hidden epidemic of child gambling addicts.

Research from the GambleAware charity suggests that 55,000 children aged under 18 are addicted to gambling and the Safer Online Gambling Group’s survey from August 2019 suggests that loot boxes and in-game purchases are costing Britain over £270m each year.

A report published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today urges the Government to crack down on these gaming features which MPs call lucrative games of chance. 

Adam Bradford, director of the Safer Online Gambling Group welcomed today’s news. He said: “It is high time video games companies took responsibility for the highly addictive content they are putting in front of children. Our research this summer showed that this area is of serious concern to parents, with the average spend per young person estimated at £500-600 per year on these games, these practices are bankrupting young people before they become young adults. After my father’s gambling addiction spiralled out of control and led him to jail several years ago, we are passionate about protecting the next generation from the harms of gambling addiction and that is why we have raised the alarm on this issue – we are delighted the Government has seen sense on this important issue.” 

The report today challenges the Government to prove why loot boxes should be regarded in a different way to any other gambling product. 

Committee chair Damian Collins MP pointed the finger at game companies and social networking sites for their “relentless battle to capture ever more of people’s attention, time and money”.

He said: “Their business models are built on this, but it’s time for them to be more responsible in dealing with the harms these technologies can cause for some users.

“Loot boxes are particularly lucrative for games companies but come at a high cost, particularly for problem gamblers, while exposing children to potential harm.

“Buying a loot box is playing a game of chance and it is high time the gambling laws caught up.

The report says it “struggled to get clear answers and useful information from companies across the games industry”, describing them as “wilfully obtuse”, but hopes the inquiry will focus minds on the potential harms.

Young people losing millions to addictive gaming – REPORT

Today, a survey by the Safer Online Gambling Group exposes Britain’s hidden epidemic of young people spending millions of pounds every year on in-app purchases and video game add-ons.

The survey estimates that young people and families could be losing over £270m each year through so called ‘loot boxes’ which offer the chance to gain greater players or upgrades in video games and mobile apps in return for cash. 1 in 2 young people (11-18) encountered in the survey had used a loot box recently and the average spend on in-game content per person was estimated at £500-600 per year.

One in ten young people are thought to have accidentally spent money on in-app purchases and 95% used gaming apps on their mobile or tablet devices according to the report. The survey also documents the rise in adverts being shown for betting to young people underage on social media and through affiliate advertising platforms inside mobile and tablet based games.

SOGG, led by entrepreneur Adam Bradford (26) and his father David (63), was born out of the pair’s joint concern about gambling addiction and gaming which mimics gambling for children; after David spent time in jail for stealing money to pay for his out of control gambling addiction in 2014. The former financial controller racked up hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of debt through loans, remortgaging his house and betting for over 30 years in secret and left his family to pick up the pieces. The pair have campaigned against Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and lobby for tighter regulation on online gambling. The group has the support of the Labour party, several MPs, the NHS and leading bookmakers.

The pair will hand in the research to Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street and they are calling on the industry and Government to act. They believe in-game purchasing should be barred by default on games and apps and that gameplay should not mimic gambling or link social or financial success to purchases made. They also want tighter rules on advertising and affiliates, so young people have less chance of seeing gambling content under age.

Find out more and view the report at www.saferonlinegambling.org/research.

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Press are invited to attend Downing Street at 3pm on 28th August for interviews, photo opportunities and further comment.

Media Contact: Adam Bradford, tel: 07950 313113, e-mail: adam@saferonlinegambling.org
For SOGG enquiries: Rodney Levine-Boateng, 100 Acres Media, tel: 07578 639284, e-mail: rodney@100acres.com