Skin betting could lead to gambling addiction at an early age, according to a problem gambling organisation.
Ireland.- A gambling addiction organisation, The Extern Problem Gambling Project, has raised concerns about children gambling online in computer games through so-called skin betting”.
Players buy virtual items, such as weapons or football players, but don’t know what they have purchased until the transaction is complete.
A number of computer games also let players gamble with their skins for the chance to win more valuable options.
Tony O’Reilly from the Extern Problem Gambling Project told The Journal newspaper that skin betting “stimulates the same brain patterns as traditional gambling”.
“These type of games lead to real-life gambling additions in children,” he said.
Mr O’Reilly is a former gambling addict who is now a trained counsellor, specialising in gambling. He gives talks at schools about the perils of addiction and how to seek help.
He said: “In some computer games, there are actual casinos within them and players can bet with real money. Parents have bought the games and their credit card is often linked to an online account.”
Concerns over the skin betting were also raised by the UK’s Gambling Commission which noted it had seen “really young people, 11- and 12-year-olds, who are getting involved in skin betting, not realising that it’s gambling.”
The Irish Government aims to have a new gambling regulator in operation by the autumn.
Minister of State at the Department of Justice James Browne intends new legislation with tight restrictions on the online sector to also counter issues of children gambling online.
The new regulator will also preside over a social fund for treatment of people with gambling addictions.