What is Underage Gambling?

Underage gambling is the use of betting and gaming services by minors. In the majority of countries, gambling below a specific age is prohibited, with 18 years of age being the most common minimum gambling age.

Preventing underage gambling has been one of the top concerns for many governments around the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. With fruit machines widely available in pubs and restaurants nationwide, many children are exposed to gaming services from a tender age.

In this comprehensive guide to underage gambling, we will delve deep into how to prevent gambling risks when it comes to minors and how to spot signs of problem gambling.

Prevention of Underage Gambling

Underage gambling has been a primary concern for many countries all over the world. Since fruit and slot machines are easily accessible, young players are exposed to gambling from a young age. Due to the addictive nature of such gaming services, there are negative effects and connotations associated with gaming.

The United Kingdom alone has seen a significant rise in underage gambling problems, with many reports demonstrating that more than 450,000 children bet regularly on all sorts of gambling services and products, including penny pushers.

But it is not only the children and the families that suffer. Casino operators also come under fire, who can face serious legal repercussions if underage gambling takes place on their sites.

This is where the importance of Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures plays a pivotal role in stopping in their tracks any attempt at gambling by minors. In the United Kingdom, verification of identity starts from the moment a person registers for an account. Due to these strict verification processes, many casinos can prevent and stop vulnerable minors from using their services.

Underage Gambling and Regulations

Gambling authorities such as the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority are continually fighting to prevent any abuse and underage gambling. There are various laws and regulations in place including

  • The Gambling Act 2005 in the UK
  • The Age-Appropriate Design Code in the UK
  • Various state and province regulations in Canada and Australia

Most of these countries have specific requirements and rules in place for operations, including rigorous checks such as age verification and KYC checks, such as identity and residence checks that are in place from the moment the player signs up for an account. These are all means to stop in their tracks any underage gambling.

Age Verification and Underage Gambling

Age verification is the most important factor that casino operators pay attention to checking the age of the player before allowing them to make use of their gambling and betting services.

In the UK, the verification process kicks off from the moment a player registers for an account. Any information submitted during the registration process is compared against government documents and electoral databases to ensure that the players are who they say they are.

There are other means as well to check such information. There are several solutions and technologies available that automatically speed up the verification process. One such solution is digital identity verification, which uses a combination of biometric data, such as facial recognition. Another solution is optical character recognition (OCR). The OCR technology allows casino operators to automatically scan the identification documents supplied by the player, such as their passports and driver’s licenses, and automatically extract and compare all the necessary information.

In the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, the legal gambling age is 18. The only key exception to the rule is Canada, where the legal gambling age varies by province. It can range between 18 and 19 years of age.

Similarly, in the United States, the minimum legal gambling age varies from state to state and also based on the gambling activity. In most states, you would need to be at least 21 years old to gamble at casinos, place bets on sports and/or play poker. However, some specific states allow players as young as 18 years old to participate in some gambling activities, such as lottery games and bingo.

KYC and Underage Gambling

Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures are some of the most cumbersome procedures for players. It is, however, a necessary evil designed to prevent underage gambling and protect vulnerable individuals against fraud and money laundering.

KYC procedures are run either from the moment you register for an account or when you are ready to cash out your winnings. In the UK, this procedure starts to run automatically as soon as you sign up for an account. If some information cannot be verified automatically, you may be requested to submit different documentation either at a later stage or immediately before you can make a deposit and start to gamble.

While some players may find KYC procedures a little invasive, they are necessary to deter and stop underage gambling. Another advantage of these procedures is that they safeguard players against any potential criminal activity, such as identity theft, money laundering and fraud.

As mentioned, if the system cannot automatically verify the information from the moment you sign up for an account, you will be requested to send in the following documentation:

  • Proof of Identity such as a photo of your ID card, passport or driver’s licence
  • Proof of Residence, such as the most recent utility bill
  • Proof of Finance, such as financial statements or photos of your debit or credit card

In the UK, you may not be allowed to start gambling before you have successfully passed the KYC checks, while in other countries, you will not be able to successfully cash out your winnings before passing these checks.

In the majority of cases, KYC procedures are completed within a matter of hours, but in other cases, it can take a couple of days, depending on the availability and workload of the team as well as the legibility of the documents supplied.

Top Tips on Underage Gambling Prevention

Parents must be aware of how their children are spending their time when using the internet to stop any potential gambling behaviours. The below tips should help protect your children and monitor their usage online.

Internet Parental Controls

The large majority of internet providers, give customers the ability to set parental controls. For example, internet provider AT&T allows parents to block any mobile purchases but also allows them to block specific websites and apps for better monitoring.

Verizon, on the other hand, enables clients to set data usage limits as well as age restrictions on the content the users can view.

Take the time to find out what options and parental controls your internet service provider has on offer.

Parental Control Software

There is a barrage of parental control software available online. Since there are many available, you need to shop around for the best ones for you. We have compiled some of the most popular options below:

  • Net Nanny: Net Nanny is a program that enables users to limit screen time and specific digital habits. It also filters all content to provide users with safer web browsing. For example, if you want to filter out any mention of gambling, then Net Nanny will prevent your children from seeing such content.
  • KidLogger: KidLottery is another prominent parental control software that shows you how long a child has been using the computer and which apps they are using on any Android, iOS or Windows device. It will also show you which websites have been visited and other essential information.
  • Qustudio: Qustudio enables parents to monitor their children’s activities as they happen in real time. This handy app works on all devices and operating systems. It can be used to block specific content such as gambling sites, limit screen time, block games and more.

Install Usage Limits

There are many free apps available online that allow you to monitor and control how much time your children spend on their smartphones. Both Android and iOS devices allow you to set screen time limits, various parental usage limit controls as well as app controls.

Speak to your Children

While there are many apps and programs available, the best way to deter your children from gambling is to communicate with them about the dangers that exist online and what to watch out for. These days, children are using devices from a very young age, so they can quickly gain access to gambling content. It is important to have frequent conversations and chats about the imminent dangers of gambling.

Discussing and monitoring social gambling apps is also of the utmost importance since they mimic the real online gambling experience.

Provide them with an open environment that is open and honest. Without passing any judgement, discuss with your child or young teen about the dangers of technology, and how to limit screen time for their own good.

Signs Your Child May Be Gambling

There are some obvious signs that your child or teens could be gambling online or may be subject to gambling addiction. These include:

  • Being secretive about what they are doing online
  • A sudden and increased interest in sports and scores of most games
  • Continually checking their phone whenever there is a sporting event on
  • Frequently asking for money or owing money to others
  • Stealing to fund their habit
  • Having lottery tickets, betting sheets and other possible gambling material
  • Knowledge of various gambling terminology such as parlay and spread
  • Mood swings
  • Frustration when losing a game
  • Angry with restricted time online
  • Gambling behaviour noticeable by other family members

Risks of Underage Gambling

Underage gambling poses significant risks which might lead to
  • Development of addiction at a young age
  • Financial instability
  • Legal repercussions
  • Impact on personal development, educational pursuits, and social relationships
  • Long-term negative effects on mental health and well-being
Addressing these risks requires a multifaceted approach involving education, regulation, and support systems to protect minors from the dangers associated with premature gambling activities.

Discussing Gambling with Children and Young Teens

Having a conversation about gambling with your child from a young age can help them avoid any potential risks and addictive behaviours.

As a parent, you must discuss what gambling is and the way it can appear in a traditional casino-like form. As mentioned earlier, social gambling that enables users to collect coins to spend on slot-like machines on social media is quite common. While they are not illegal and are accessible to all, they are designed to mimic the real online gambling experience.

You should also explain in detail how parental controls work and why your children should not do anything they would not want their parents to see. Be completely frank and transparent about any information you would be seeking via these parental controls and why you are doing so for your own benefit.

Take the time to go over their screen time reports and ask them how they feel when they are not using a screen. If you spot any signs of addictive behaviour, now is the right time to address it.

Ask your children if they have seen or spotted any gambling behaviour in their friends and classmates. Ask them how they feel and how they should handle these situations.

Most importantly, as a family, you need to avoid specific arcades, where slot-like machines such as penny pushers are. Discuss why they are dangerous and highly addictive to your child.

How To Encourage Healthy Screen Time

The best way to stop underage gambling is to encourage responsible screen-time behaviours. Establishing clear boundaries and actively discussing online content that youth consume are the first steps in this process. To ensure that devices are used in public spaces and at the proper times, parents and guardians should set and enforce rules around screen time. To maintain a balance, encourage different activities like sports or family game evenings that foster socialisation and physical exercise.

Teach them the importance of age limitations and the risks associated with gambling. Block gambling websites and keep an eye on online behaviour by using the parental controls that are available on devices and apps. It’s possible to explain and reduce the attractiveness of gambling by having open talks about the reality of the industry, highlighting the dangers of gaming behaviour.

Underage Gambling: FAQs

Underage gambling is far more prevalent in this day and age due to the increased use of technology from a young age. We have compiled the below frequently asked questions to give you quick and easy access to the most relevant information.

Underage gambling refers to the act of gambling by persons who are not of a legal gambling age. In the majority of countries, the legal gambling age is 18 years of age, but in countries, such as Canada and the United States, it can be higher depending on the state and province of residence.

Underage gambling can lead to a wide range of negative consequences. Addiction, legal issues and financial problems are all common risks. Gambling addiction could also pave the way for stealing to keep up with the habit as well as other potential addictions in the long run, such as alcohol and drug abuse.

There are various steps you can take to stop your child from gambling. Discuss the risks and dangers that exist online from a young age and monitor their activity online. Most importantly, learn to spot the signs of problem gambling behavior.

If you suspect that your child is gambling, it is essential that the right action is taken right away. Start by discussing your concerns and seeking professional help if required. If you have not installed any parental control software or monitoring, now is the time to do so.

There are various forms of gambling, including penny pushers at arcades, social gambling, scratch cards, lottery, bingo, slot machines, sports betting and other casino games.