To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what (a) legislative frameworks and (b) guidance are in place to ensure the protection of children from practices that (i) encourage them to gamble and (ii) expose them to situations that may lead to gambling through in-game purchasing in video games.
Protecting children and the vulnerable from being harmed or exploited by gambling is a core objective of the regulation of gambling in Great Britain, and a priority for the government. Under the Gambling Act 2005 it is an offence to invite a child or young person to gamble. This includes, in particular, intentionally bringing to the attention of a child or young person information about gambling with a view to encouraging them to gamble.
Where gambling facilities are offered to British consumers using in-game items which can be converted into cash or traded for items of real-world value, then such activities must be licensed by the Gambling Commission. The Gambling Commission has a range of powers to enforce compliance, including bringing criminal action against unlicensed operators that offer gambling to children.
Pictographic content descriptors supplement the PEGI age ratings, and there is a descriptor for games that contain elements that may encourage gambling. Games with this type of content carry a PEGI 12, 16 or 18 age ratings. The VSC Rating Board is working with PEGI to assess further steps to inform consumers about purchases in games.
The Competition and Markets Authority provides guidance and advice for parents and carers, in respect of children’s use of online games. The advice includes information on checking device settings to prevent children from making in-play purchases, as well as guidance on game descriptors. The guidance can be found on its website at the following address: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/buying-features-in-online-games-advice-for-parents-and-carers/childrens-app-and-online-games-advice-for-parents-and-care