Children Cannot Avoid Gambling-Like Mechanics In Games, Says Research

November 15, 2021
​​​​​​​Danish regulator research on gambling addiction has found microtransactions made by children on video games such as FIFA often replicate gambling mechanics.


Danish regulator research on gambling addiction has found microtransactions made by children on video games such as FIFA often replicate gambling mechanics.

As part of work done following a cross-party agreement in 2018 to introduce new measures to tackle gambling addiction, researchers have completed a report on the similarities between gambling and video games.

A section of the agreement stated the increasingly blurred lines between gambling and gaming should be evaluated and addressed.

Researchers want to introduce more friction between consumers making video game microtransactions, as well as participating in gambling-related game mechanics.

Children and their parents also need to be better informed about the risks of spending money when they play video games, according to the research.

“It is almost impossible to avoid microtransactions and gambling-related elements” for children playing video games, according to the research.

The qualitative research project was funded by the Danish Gambling Authority (Spillemyndigheden) and undertaken by the Danish Centre for Social Science Research (VIVE).

The research project found microtransactions do not immediately carry a risk for young people in relation to gambling addiction, or other addictions.

But microtransactions were found to encourage children and young people to spend more money than they planned.

The research also discovered there was a “relatively low” amount of young gamers that actually access gambling platforms that run off in-game items acquired via microtransactions.

Interviews with the children found their peers often pressured them to engage in microtransactions and gambling related activities within games such as FIFA and CS:GO.

VIVE warned that streamers and YouTubers often promote the consumption of gambling-related microtransactions without referring to the real life cost of making these purchases.

“This can be especially problematic for children who have not yet fully developed a critical sense that enables them to understand that it is actually real money that is being withdrawn when making a quick purchase in a game with a few clicks on mouse or console,” according to VIVE.

This was a major reason why children ended up spending more than they intended, leading to VIVE to call for more restrictive designs for parts of video games including microtransactions and more educational resources for parents to be aware of the issue.

Research participants included 107 children and young people aged between 10-19 that were placed in focus groups and given individual interviews about their knowledge of, experiences with and attitudes to gaming and gambling-related items.

Separately, Spillemyndigheden’s anti-money laundering group has launched new supervisory measures for land-based casinos.

All land-based casinos in the country have been invited to a meeting with the regulator to discuss the new measures, which include the ability to carry out more comprehensive money laundering inspections.

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