Video game developers could be prosecuted if they fail to prevent children gambling, MPs have been told.
The Gambling Commission expressed “significant concerns” about players’ ability to gamble virtual in-game items which can be bought and sold for real money.
These are featured in many popular online games, such as Call of Duty and Counter-Strike.
The products are not legally defined as gambling because they cannot be exchanged for cash within the game.
However, they can be bought with money on other websites.
The Gambling Commission’s Programme Director, Brad Enright, said it was “constrained by the current legislation”.
But he added that action could be taken against firms who were not doing enough to prevent players, including children, selling items for cash.
Ian Lucas MP questioned whether developers had any incentive to prevent their products being used for gambling.
He was concerned that it was “creating an understanding of a process” which could normalise gambling for children.
It was announced this week that Grand Theft Auto V (GTA) has opened an in-game casino where real money can be spent on gambling chips.
Although the game is rated 18+, it is popular among young teens.
The Bishop of St Albans described the effect of child gambling as a “generational scandal”.
He said: “Gambling companies tell us they’re working hard to protect children but that claim simply doesn’t stack up.”
The Christian Institute has consistently warned about the danger of normalising gambling for children.