A recent report by Digital Australia claims that Aussie kids have ‘unrestricted access’ to video games. Roughly 97% of households have access to one gaming device according to the report. At least 60% have a further four devices with access to these games. These games are generally G-rated, and can be advertised to a general audience.
However, the report claims that access to these devices could lead children to social gambling. This may seem like quite a leap, but there are ‘potential risks’. Experts say that the Australian Classification Board is sloppy when rating games, and that developers take advantage of ‘lax standards’.
In a 2012 study, over 100 video games were studied and 69 featured gambling simulations. At the time, 33 of the games were rated ‘G’ by the board. Effectively, none of the games were considered harmful. Portable devices that support video games have been pointed out as a problem area by the report. Mobile devices are relatively unregulated in Australia, and could lead kids to gambling services.
Gambling analysts, along with problem gambling experts, have called for the Australian Classification Board to expand on current criteria for game ratings. Currently, the board has six criteria for rating games. One of which includes a gambling themes and references criterion. Unfortunately, gambling game providers could bypass this criterion by making ‘gambling more acceptable to regulators’.
These experts think that video games offering real or fake money options could cause young individuals to take up gambling or become addicts. They also insist that gambling options pose a threat to kids. What’s more, they feel that such games should be given an R-rating instead of a PG one. The R (18+) has been available to video game categorisations since 2013.
Many states, like Victoria, have expressed concern over video games. However, they haven’t done much about these concerns. Local regulators have released statements, but that’s about it. Even though current classifications for games contradict local gambling laws. Until then, we would advise caution and using child-proofing apps on all devices.