UK children bet on their skins
Based on an annual gambling survey, the UK Gambling Commission has concluded that approximately 0.5 million children are playing online betting websites with virtual money that can be cashed out into real money through skin betting.
What is skin betting?
Skin betting is the use of virtual goods that are normally cosmetic elements like "skins" that can include weapons, clothes, skins or avatar customization that really have very little to do with the gameplay itself. The practice in video games, such as Counter Strike is referred to as "skin betting". Though cosmetic, they can become valuable depending on their scarcity, effectively becoming a virtual currency which third party sites then allow players to gamble on casino or slot games. The transactions are quick with the chance of increasing the value of inventory but some players have actually lost thousands on these. The worldwide value of skins gambling has been estimated at £3bn.
Problem gamblers and at risk gamblers
Many of the skins gambling sites are based in Russia and deliberately target young people with flashy banners and minimal procedures in place to ensure the players are at least 18 years of age. The concern is that a lack of experience and naivety make children susceptible to the longer-term risks of problem gambling.
Protecting your children
No reputable online casino wants to run afoul of the regulators and so the licensed and reputable ones impose age verification procedures and give you the option to self-impose spending limits, protecting you from overspending. Clearly there is no one solution however it is important that parents educate their children in the risks of gambling. The industry must also do its part to protect children. If you think that you or your child is developing a problematic gambling habit, you can visit Gamcare.org for support and counselling.