Children are being lured into gambling by slot-machine styled games and apps through Facebook.
Scientific Games, a US-based gambling company which supplies thousands of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals to the UK, offers the enticing games without any age-verification checks via the social media platform.
Featuring popular children’s characters such as the Flintstones and Rapunzel, the apps are putting children at risk of gambling addiction.
The games are not listed as gambling products because the virtual ‘coins’ have to be bought before they can be used in any of the dozens of casino-style games.
After a ‘win’ on the Jackpot Party Casino Slots app, users are prompted to “share free coins with your friends so they can win too!”
“cynically targeting young people”
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said: “It is deeply worrying that games designed to get children in the habit of gambling are being marketed and played online.
“The company that makes these products is cynically targeting young people, some of whom are at risk of developing gambling addictions later in life.”
The news comes just weeks after it was revealed by a Gambling Commission report that an estimated 25,000 children are problem gamblers, with a further 36,000 at risk.
Mark Griffiths, a university professor specialising in behavioural addiction, said that playing these virtual games were the “number one risk factor” in developing a problem in later life.