Scientific Games Under Fire For Offering Gambling Apps With No Age Checks
Scientific Games, a US-based firm that develops both gaming apps and fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), is facing scrutiny as the UK government says it offers gambling apps with no age checks. This is after the gambling industry itself has come under fire because of a recent study that revealed that as many as 60,000 children have become gambling addicts or are on the verge of becoming ones. Experts lay the blame on gaming apps that mimic real gambling.
As one of the makers of these type of apps, Scientific Games has become the poster child of this trend in mobile gaming. These ‘social games‘ are usually available on Facebook and as apps on the Google and iOS store, letting anyone play them. Currently, Scientific Games has several social games that function pretty much like slot machines – which is another product that they produce.
One of the most noticeable examples of this is the game called ‘Toys For Tots‘. A featured game in the Jackpot Party Casino Slots app, this game is full of Christmas imagery and toys to attract the eye of children. Two other gaming products have caught the eye of critics. There is the Flintstone-themed slot game that uses cartoon characters and the cute ‘OMG!Kittens‘ game that has pictures of cute kittens as the victory symbols in the slot machine. Though there is a disclaimer on these and apps and games that they are intended for adult players, there is no noticeable age check in them.
Experts worry that children exposed to such games early in life will develop an addiction to them. It is important to note though that these slot machine apps don't directly allow children to bet money. The mechanism is that they have to buy "coins" to play the games and any win will be in coins – which can then only be used to play future games. Besides this, the app is very active in its engagement with players, constantly sending updates via emails about promotions and free coin events. Many people worry that this creates an environment in which gambling as gaming is encouraged. A quarter of the children who play these types of games have actually used their own money to buy ‘coins‘ to play these games.
Scientific Games is already getting some negative press because of its popular FOBT products. Players of these machines have claimed that they are particularly addictive and have lost heavily playing FOBTs.