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Protection of online gamblers

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2021-04-22

Eddy Cheung

While it used to be almost inconceivable before the Internet era that minors or adolescents could actively come into contact with the topic of gambling, let alone take part in games in a casino, the situation now seems exactly the opposite. In fact, there is hardly a place left where there is no internet access or WLAN reception. In addition, the use of digital media has now become as natural for many young people as tying their shoes. For many children and young people, the Internet has become a kind of additional playground and meeting point, and many adults also use various entertainment offers and platforms such as online casinos.

Protection of online gamblers

The explosive thing about this matter is that there are hardly any mechanisms that could, for example, one hundred percent prevent young people from becoming active on platforms that are not suitable for their age. The risk does not necessarily have to come from a game of chance in an online casino. What even many adults, parents and teachers do not know is that even online games that seem as harmless as the popular soccer simulator FIFA contain potentially dangerous content. It is not about depictions of violence or the like, but about the possibility of in-game purchases, so-called loot boxes and the use of additional chat rooms within the games.

Reform of the youth protection act

Politicians reacted and decided in March 2021 to change the law. Young people should be better protected and parents, supervisors and pedagogical staff should be given more information and guidance. In addition, a new legal framework is being created that providers must also adhere to. As a result of the amendments to the Youth Protection Act, the well-known information on age recommendations for online and video games, as known from the USK (entertainment software self-control), will be supplemented with additional information in the future. It is intended to point out ambiguous usage risks such as elements similar to gambling. Interestingly, a similar system already exists at the international level, established by the IARC (International Age Rating Coalition).

Game providers and platform operators who make use of this receive a form with questions relevant to the protection of minors, which is used to classify the age recommendation. As soon as there is an opportunity to win or lose real money in a game, this is marked with the note "Gambling with money". Providers who want to counteract this in order to continue to make their games available to younger people have the option of expanding them on a technical level so that, for example, they can offer in-game purchase functions or chat boxes as well as similar features depending on the target group deactivate.

Player protection for adults too

It is well known that the games of chance in an online casino not only involve various risks for children or minors. Even with adults, the legal machines can be extremely addictive. The availability of games of chance has increased significantly, especially in recent years. In the middle of the year it is possible to legally operate an online casino in Germany nationwide, which was previously only the case in Schleswig Holstein. And for an online casino in Germany, for example, there are still no legal requirements for a uniform maximum limit for the game sums that can be used.

The dilemma seems preprogrammed, especially since very few providers have panic buttons with which gamers could at least temporarily protect themselves from the worst. In addition, experts advise introducing player bans across all arcades, which should then also apply to every online casino in Germany. In this regard, there is an urgent need for action in order to ensure effective protection in terms of damage limitation.

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AUTHOREddy Cheung

I remember the first time I saw Kai Tak, Hong Kong's gambling city, I thought I was in a fairy tale. All the lights blinking, the music and the monumental buildings, what 9-year-old wouldn’t think they’ve come to a magical place? It was my father who brought me, dragging me along and when inside I was hit by the smell of frying duck. As soon as I hit 21 I returned to Kai Tak, A bit nervous to see if my mind had embellished the memory, but it hadn’t. Kai Tak was still a magical place. I decided I wanted to spend as much time as I could at this place, so I did. For the next coming years I lived and breathed Kai Tak. Now I am married with kids, and they have become a part of my life too. That’s why I started exploring online casinos to create a better work-life balance and I couldn’t be happier!

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