Kids’ online betting prompts crackdown call

Clubs Australia calls for review of Online Gambling on Facebook in line with Responsible Gambling Online and Poker Machine Reform.

Children as young as 13 are being allowed to gamble on poker machines on Facebook with real money, prompting urgent calls for a government crackdown.

A game called “Slotomania”, featuring cartoons, appears to be aimed at young people, and encourages players to purchase coins with credit cards, BPay or PayPal.

An investigation has revealed that children with a Facebook profile that lists their age, as well as under-18s, are still allowed, and encouraged, to play with real money.

It was a simple exercise to gain easy access to the machines by logging in as a 13-year-old.

Facebook did not create Slotomania, whose developers could not be reached last night; however, the game is promoted through Facebook sites.

The CEO of Clubs Australia, Anthony Ball, wrote to Family and Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin, who is in charge of introducing the pokie reforms, more than two weeks ago to warn her of the site, but she has not responded.

“The emergence of online gambling applications, which are explicitly aimed at children, and are easily available to minors on social networking sites, is extremely concerning,” Mr Ball wrote.

“Clubs Australia believes the Federal Government should immediately examine what measures are available to prevent children from accessing and purchasing credits to use for online gambling, both on online gaming and social networking sites.”

Ms Macklin’s spokesman said the letter had been forwarded to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who was in charge of online gambling.

His spokesman said the Government would review the Interactive Gambling Act.

“The review will include examination of the operation of the IGA and the effectiveness of the current provisions. It will also include further consideration of international regulatory approaches to online gambling and their potential applicability to the Australian context. It will also examine the ability to improve harm minimisation measures for online gambling services,” he said.

“The review will also look at the enforcement of existing prohibitions on certain types of online gambling, the way the Act applies to different technological platforms, and the growing number of Australian consumers gambling online in an unregulated environment.”

But Mr Ball said the Government should stop trying to put a cap on poker machines and act now on online gambling.

X