Report: Kids as Young as 11 Years Old Have Gambled in Video Games

Kids have engaged with gambling in-game items, according to new report from U.K. Gambling Commission that surveyed over 2,800

Kids as young as 11 years-old have engaged with gambling in-game items, a new report from the UK Gambling Commission finds (via Kotaku).

The report, which surveyed 2,803 people, says 11-percent of children between the ages of 11 and 16 have made bets with in-game items. Of that number 36-percent had done so in the past week of the poll. 23-percent made bets in the past month and 41-percent made bets more than a month ago. According to the report, these bets were made "when playing computer games or app-based games."

Breaking these numbers down further, the UK Gambling Commission finds boys are more likely to bet with in-game items, such as "skins," than girls. According to the report, 20-percent of that 11-percent were boys making bets – only 3-percent were girls.

"Older respondents were more likely to have bet with in-game items: only 3-percent of 11 year-olds had done so compared to 14-percent of 14-16 year-olds," the report states. "The incidence of betting with in-game items was higher than average among young people who had spent their own money on gambling in the past week (24-percent) and those who had played online gambling-style games (30-percent)."

It's worth pointing out, engaging in these activities in video games doesn't require an age gate. Where most states prohibit minors from buying, say, lottery tickets, in-app purchases, microtransactions and third party video game betting sites can be accessed by anyone no matter their age. 

That latter point, and the findings of this report, echo many issues people in the game press, industry and community are having with items such as loot boxes. Publisher EA recently found itself in hot water over the way it was incentivizing its players to spend real-world money in the game to get better items and cosmetics. The argument from fans against this is: they should be in the game already, not behind a pay wall. 

For more on this issue, check out our history of loot boxes and the way they've impacted the game industry.