A new report finds that esports betting websites could be luring kids with hard-to-track ads, putting them at risk for developing gambling problems.
Esports has given an opportunity for gamers to show their skills to the world and prove that they are the best at what they play. When games like Fortnite having a competitive scene, their audience tends to be young. Given the easy accessibility of the game, many kids play video games for hours a day, aspiring to be the next esports star or just following their favorite teams. With gaming having such a large influence on kids, this leads to an issue that gambling companies are taking advantage of.
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The Conversation recently reported on research on gambling in the esports community, particularly as it affects kids and teeens. The Advertising Standards Authority recently told British lawmakers that tracking and regulating gambling online has become almost impossible. Esports has a high prevalence in social media, with many professional teams having their own Twitter accounts to announce information. This would lead to kids and teens using the same social media platforms to track their favorite teams. According to The Conversation, kids are getting messages about online betting from the same medium, and they’re often hard to distinguish from other social media content. Tweets advertising esports gambling reportedly modeled themselves after memes or frequently used GIFs and emojis to spread their message. This suggests that these esports gambling websites know their audience and tap into the way that young people communicate online to encourage them to gamble.
While the Advertising Standards Authority can regulate online ads, it can’t do that job effectively in cases where ads are hard to even spot. Given that, it falls to other parties in esports to look out for young audience members. Esports teams can use social media to raise awareness of gambling addiction and predatory ads, for instance. Recently, esports teams used their platforms to raise awareness of police brutality following the killing of George Floyd. This could be a more effective way to spread awareness about predatory gambling ads, since kids might be more willing to listen to their favorite pro players rather than their parents or other authority figures. Games might also have to take a different approach with their loot systems, as it’s been speculated that the prevalence of loot boxes in games could encourage gambling.
With enough effort, the esports community can prevent gambling companies from abusing their younger audiences. For starters, the UK Parliament has already taken a stance on gambling in video games. Ideally, kids and teens should be capable of spotting a gambling website and taught to avoid them.
Next: Loot Boxes Are Finally Being Clearly Mentioned In ESRB Ratings
Source: The Conversation
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