William Hill, Bet365 and 888 are ordered to remove Peter Pan and Jack and the Bean Stalk online games ‘designed to lure children into gambling’
- Gambling Commission and Advertising Standards Agency have demanded the games be removed
- Kids cartoons and colour schemes used to entice people to play their games
- More than 450 online gambling sites received four-page letter to pull the games
British betting companies are facing calls from leading industry regulators to remove hundreds of casino games or face sanctions in the biggest crackdown on the industry yet.
The Gambling Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have come together to demand online websites ‘immediately’ remove controversial games that appeal to children.
More than 450 online gambling websites, including William Hill, Bet365 and 888, have received a four-page letter from the ASA and Gambling Commission, demanding that they pull the games.
Children’s cartoon characters, such as Peter Pan and Jack and the Beanstalk, were used to promote their games online, with stakes between 1p and £600.
The Sunday Times revealed that the ASA and Gambling Commission deem the games as advertisements, and so must comply with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) rules which forbid gambling which has a ‘particular appeal’ to children.
Around 450,000 children in England and Wales gamble each week – more than those who take drugs or smoke – adding to growing fears that the next generation of young people are at risk of becoming hooked on gambling.
One problem that experts fear could lead to addiction is that children are exposed to online betting games, which they start off playing for free and without having to prove they are over 18 years of age.
The letter, which has also been signed by the heads of the Remote Gambling Association that represents online gambling operators, said the games highlighted in the letter were ‘unacceptable’.
It reads: ‘The use of particular colours, cartoon and comic images, animals, child and youth-orientated features and names of games such as Piggy Payour, Fluffy Favourites and Jack and the Beanstalk are likely, alone or in combination, to enhance appeal to under-18s.’
It comes as the Government is reviewing the maximum £100 betting stakes on fixed-odds terminals.
The games, often found in bookies, are often referred to as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.
The machines – on which £100 can be wagered every 20 seconds – have been linked to two suicides, gambling addiction, debt and money laundering.
The review could lead to the stakes involved being reduced to as little as £2 a spin if the damage they are suspected of wreaking is confirmed.
The maximum number of machines in each bookmaker’s premises could also be slashed from the current four. Critics say that cramming four of the machines into often small betting shops has created mini-casinos on the high street.