Gaming gifts’ gateway to gambling harm

Holiday gaming could lead to long-term gambling harm

With holidays upon us and many young people spending their time 'chilling’ with popular electronic gifts, it is important for parents to be aware that online games can give young people access to gambling, with the potential to cause long-term harm.

Popular games used by Generation X parents, like Frogger and Pac-Man have been turned into cloaked gambling tools that blur the lines between gaming and gambling and can make a trip down memory lane with Dad (or Mum) fraught with unseen landmines.

Popular vouchers such as Steam, Google Play and i-Tunes cards can be used to buy credits that enable teens to bet on e-sports, slots or card games. And many children being offered ‘free to play’ slots and card games are being groomed to become gamblers.

Susan Orchard, Financial Counsellor with Gamblers’ Help Southern, a program of Connect Health & Community, said simulated gambling games can give a false sense of the likelihood to win as they produce more frequent successes. But when the child is playing for real money, the algorithm changes to make success harder and your teen is likely to lose.

“These losses can lead to anxiety or depression when money troubles hit,” she said.

“The sad reality is that a teen with a part time job and an income of $100 a week can be at risk of gambling harm sooner than their parents who have higher incomes and are more street savvy.”  

Ms Orchard said it is never too soon for parents to engage with teens and talk about the risks associated with gambling.

“Unfortunately, in such an online world our children are at the risk of being exposed to gambling harm every time they turn on a device,” she said.

She added that the holidays provide a perfect opportunity for parents to sit down with their children to help them navigate the ambiguities of online gaming and gambling.

“Holiday down-time provides us a great opportunity to put aside some time to spend with our teens and get to know what they are doing online, as well as making them aware of the unseen dangers they may be facing. By working together as a team, parents can give teens the tools to make informed choices and reduce the risk of gambling harm,” she said.

Gambler’s Help Southern encourages parents to help their children by using barrier tools such as ‘net nanny’, ‘gamblock’ and ‘bet filter’ which are available at https://responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/reducing-harm/parents/resources-and-research/staying-safe-online/

Gambler’s Help Southern is available to help with queries or concerns by calling 9575 5353 or visiting www.gamblershelpsouthern.org.au . Gambler’s Help Southern is also available to host parents’ information sessions.

Families struggling with youth issues can engage Connect Health’s Youth Services team for independent and confidential counselling and assistance.

For more information, parents can visit:

-              http://raisingchildren.net.au

-              https://esafety.gov.au/iparent

-              https://www.responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/awareness-and-prevention/love-the-game/young-people-and-gambling/factsheets/the-facts-about-gambling-and-young-people

-              https://www.responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/awareness-and-prevention/love-the-game/young-people-and-gambling/factsheets/talking-to-teenagers-about-gambling

-              http://www.smh.com.au/comment/gambling-operators-are-cashing-in-on-teens-addiction-to-online-games-20170214-gucj1d.html

If you or a family has been impacted by gambling you can also the Victorian Responsible Gambling authority at https://www.responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/getting-help/ways-to-get-help for more information.

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