Does SA Have an Underage Gambling Problem?
Underage gambling has long been on the radar of global authorities who say that online casinos may pose a danger to those who are too young to understand them. While underage children playing games of the online variety has long been a topic of discussion and concern, now authorities are becoming worried by the number of bets being placed on online first-person shooter tournaments, such as are played with games like First Strike.
The problem it seems is that while under 18s and under 21s are allowed to play in such tournaments, betting on these has reached epic proportions and it is not just adults who are placing their money on the outcomes of these tournaments. It is children too.
A spokesperson for the UK-based bookmaker William Hill, stated that the site has taken bets totalling about £250 000 (about R2-million) on these kinds of gaming tournaments just this year and he predicts that next year, that amount could quadruple. Though this kind of gambling is more than acceptable for adults, authorities are beginning to worry that children (or at least, under 18s) are starting to get in on the action too, but they’re not just betting in the conventional sense.
A platform that allows for this kind of betting recently stated that what seems to be occurring is that teenagers are using third-party software providers to bet “add-ons”, that is, rare in-game weapons and armour that could be used by the characters in the game. They purchase these on third-party sites and use their parents’ credit cards or ewallet accounts to make their purchases. Children are also using their parents’ online accounts to place more traditional bets on the outcomes of these tournaments and this means not just that they are engaging in underage betting, but also that they are involved in fraud.
In South Africa, we have long had a problem will illegal betting amongst adults, but has this graduated as far as illegal online betting by children? Currently, given the grey areas around online gambling legislation, it is very difficult to determine if children are stealing their parents’ details to be online, and there have been few to no reported cases of this happening. However, given our increasing internet speeds and the availability of online collaborative games through platforms such as Steam, it may not be long before South Africa faces the same problem global authorities are currently seeing.
For parents who are concerned that their teens may be using their online casino accounts, or even using their credit cards to open accounts at South African online casinos, remember that prevention is better than cure. If you suspect that your underage child is engaging in any type of online betting, change your passwords, get a new credit card or set up parental controls on your home computers.