Children are the New Gambling Targets!
Preventing further child suicide from gambling harm!
In the USA, a National Gambling Impact Study Commission in 2010 reported an estimated 15 million men, women and children were harmed by gambling. This was before the gambling advertising saturation we see today.
The media is replete with gambling lures for children with online casinos, video games and sports betting. Children are our future. Even if we put aside any moral implications, by putting children at risk, we are robbing our economic future.
Arnie Wexler, an American authority on gambling harm, has observed that when he first started going to Gamblers Anonymous, it was mainly men over 65. Now it is mostly under 30. Children as young as twelve are seeing gambling harm counsellors.
In many countries, the advisory disclaimer “Gamble Responsibly” is mentioned briefly at the end of an advert or promotion, presenting an oxymoron for an underage gambler who is not equipped with the maturity to responsibly consent.
Children today are tech-savvy and can easily subvert most gambling blocking software, except GamBlock®.
In video games, a loot box is a consumable virtual item which can be redeemed to receive a randomised selection of further virtual items, or loot, meaning picked up by the player character that increase their power or abilities, such as currency, spells, equipment and weapons.
The UK has decided not to ban loot boxes1.
Underage gamblers often begin through websites that let them deposit cosmetic items2 (microtransactions are any paid additional content that are designed to be cosmetic in nature and are not intended to affect gameplay substantially nor alter game mechanics) they paid real world money for to gamble. One such popular platform is the Steam Community Market, a virtual trading platform to buy and sell in-game items. Transactions are through your Steam Wallet, used for trading game-specific items, trading cards and loot boxes. GamBlock® added the option of blocking the Steam Market as soon as concerned parents brought this to our attention.
Parents used to complain that their children had maxed out their credit cards. Now children go on the dark web to get money for gambling and by the time their parents have found out, they are far worse off.
Since the UK government stipulated that gambling sites must link to gambling blocking software and other regulations, it has been to casinos' advantage to link to software that does not work. Many gambling help groups now accept direct funding, often in opaque transactions, from casinos. Recently The NHS (UK) has withdrawn funding3 from gambling support group GambleAware because of that group’s funding from gambling.
Indeed, many help organisations around the world are now accepting funding and are promoting harm reduction for people harmed by gambling, rather than abstinence. Gamblers Anonymous recognises that an individual's gambling is their great obsession. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing to the gambler with many pursuing it into the gates of prison, insanity or death4. There are also many naive and / or deluded help groups who spruik feeling good who are inadvertently or intentionally helping other entities at the expense of people harmed by gambling. This has been a perfect environment for a decline in the health of individuals harmed by gambling.
In a pseudo-regulated market, ineffective and easily broken gambling blocking software is the perfect vehicle for casinos to promote to help groups, but it is really not addressing the fundamental problem of helping gambling people harmed by gambling.
GamBlock® - Helping Gambling Children Harmed by Gambling
Gambling blocker software needs to be highly robust to combat the methods a desperate gambler will use to get around simple blocking techniques.
Truly independent testing shows GamBlock® cannot be removed.
Threats of suicide are something GamBlock® encounters all too often. It is in the interest of irresponsible casinos to sponsor software that does not work and cover up suicide. In many cases, this is after people have been directed to ineffective software by those with vested interests5.
Whilst it is important to note that there are responsible casinos around the world, when funding to help groups comes from gambling vendors, they are marking their own homework. It is disappointing to see that Australia and other places are following the UK model.
People come to us all the time, including parents and children, who have tried imitators and ended up in a far more horrible place than when they took the decision to stop gambling. There are those whose lives ended before they got to us.
GamBlock® is trying to reach out to more markets, industries and people and make them aware of this lack of transparency and how severely it harms the community and its children.
About the Author David Warr
For 22 years, I have been educating people how people harmed by gambling live on the precipice of death and the emotional devastation it causes loved ones. Child gambling and suicide is an area that needs much more research. In the hope that the wider community can see what happens behind closed doors, I commissioned research showing the financial cost of ever-increasing child suicide. I chose the UK as this is where insidious regulation issues originated.
My hope is that people who have children but may not know much about online gambling, should be averted from an unthinkable future, including financial tragedy. Indeed, anyone concerned about a child’s long-term future should appreciate the financial devastation that ineffective gambling harm regulation implies, which is rooted in the UK model.