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Underage Gambling

Underage gambling refers to minors being involved in different forms of gambling, including betting on different casino gaming machines online and in brick-and-mortar casinos. This includes betting on casino slots, card games, and any other form of gaming that involves putting a certain amount of money at risk. All forms of sports betting also come under the list of entertainment prohibited by gambling commissions in the UK and other parts of the world. In this case, the criteria for being a minor is being at least 18 years old. The exact age for your country or state may vary, so you must refer to the National Gambling Commission’s guidelines to confirm.

How KYC Procedures Help Combat Underage Gambling

To prevent minors from betting, every online casino or gambling app has to undergo a mandatory process known as KYC (Know Your Customer). Underage gambling is a grave issue which can have a huge impact on the mental health of adolescents. To counter this issue, online gambling sites must become more compliant with the KYC guidelines to prevent underage users from signing up. Sign-in procedures should have a more detailed verification system so minors can’t access their guardians’ accounts.

The KYC guidelines vary for different regions and dictate the strictness of rules you make for your customers at the casino. Compliance with the KYC regulations enables efficient prevention of money laundering, terrorist financing, and other forms of fraudulent activities that someone might be conducting.

The crucial step of complying with KYC regulations is customer verification. Every gambling site has to undergo a detailed customer verification process using identity proof such as a social security number, and a risk profile is established for customers. After this information is verified, only then can the gambling company verify the account. Implementation of KYC aligns with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations. Failure of compliance can lead to legal actions by gambling commission authorities and ultimately cause trouble for such companies.

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Legal Age To Gamble In Different Markets

The legal age to gamble varies in different countries. We have mentioned the legal age for some of the most prominent countries below:

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United Kingdom

The legal age in the UK, according to the UKGC (UK Gambling Commission), is 18 years old.
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The legal age for gambling in most states is 19 years. However, this varies between 18-19 years in different states (e.g., it is 18 years for some machines in Ontario). Confirm the legal age for your state.
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New Zealand

New Zealand is pretty strict with the gambling age, and you cannot be allowed at a casino until you are 20 years old. Some online casino games may be accessed if you are 18 or above.
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South Africa

The legal age for all forms of gambling is 18 years in South Africa.
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The legal age for gambling in Ireland is 18 years or above.

Preventing Minors From Accessing Your Betting Account

One of the most common concerns of parents is about minors accessing their gambling accounts. This could lead to them getting involved in gambling and possibly leading to misuse of the money they have in your gambling account. Some of the tips to prevent your children or other minors at home from accessing your account include:

Signs Your Child Might Be Involved in Online Gambling

Today, many video games on non-gambling sites feature themes such as Treasure chests, money dealing, non-monetary sports betting, etc. These themes often attract children, especially teenagers, to be involved in betting. Some forms of gambling, such as buying lotto cards, betting on sports, etc., may seem like an easier way to get money. Some signs to look out for that indicate your child might be involved in gambling include:

Use a calm approach towards if your child or any other minor under your guardianship is involved in gambling. Discuss with them and consider the need for counselling depending on how much they are involved in the habit of gambling. You can also contact the National Gambling helpline to seek support and advice for your child or get help from online support groups.

how to prevent underage gambling

Risks of Underage Gambling and Why It Might Appeal Minors

Irresponsible gambling, doesn’t matter which age group anyone belongs to, leads gamblers to addiction. This form of addiction doesn’t only harm your bank balance but also harms your mental health. The major risks include:

Gambling is appealing to minors as it is an easy way of obtaining money for different forms of entertainment and luxuries their parents otherwise won’t let them have. Minors fail to understand how strategic placement of bets work and let the adrenaline rush dictate their moves in the game. This leads to them being addicted to it. They also don’t fully understand the positives and negatives, and the glamour associated with it, as seen in movies and TV shows, often leads to them getting involved in it. For example, the thrill of spinning reels of a slot machine and landing a jackpot, as seen in a Vegas casino in a movie, is quite appealing for adolescents, especially teenagers. They may also see it as an escape from different stressors they may be dealing with, e.g., academic stress, bullying, family troubles, etc.

Additionally, the rise in many unlicensed online casinos that do not follow KYC regulations and are involved in fraudulent practices may also seem like an easy way for minors to get involved in betting. The lack of financial literacy at this age further makes minors prey to such casino sites. Peer pressure and advertisements that children may see online can only influence their choices.

Websites and Software Blocking Apps to Prevent Underage Gambling

To counter the problem of underage gambling, there are multiple built-in parental control settings as well as apps on the App Store and Google Play store that let you keep an eye on minors. This way you can monitor the content they view and the time they spend online. This approach can help you regulate what websites they can access and block access to such sites. You can install these on the family devices your minors may access.

You can also look for the in-built parental controls in settings on any Mac, Windows, Android or iOS device.

Final Thoughts: How to Encourage Healthy Screen Time

To prevent your child from online gambling, monitor their online activity and ensure they spend a healthy amount of time on screen. You can encourage them to participate in other activities including outdoor sports, reading etc. One way to prevent their indulgence in such habits is to be a good listener so they can share things with you.

A collaboration of efforts from parents and gambling websites, stringent measures by corporations to adhere to KYC guidelines, and awareness regarding underage gambling can help mitigate this problem.

Underage Gambling FAQs

What age is considered illegal for gambling?

In most parts of the world, ages below 18 are considered illegal. This may differ for your country/state, so check your national gambling commission’s rules.

What is the penalty for underage gambling in the UK?

A fine of £1,000 is issued for gambling by a young person when it is not permitted.

As a parent, how can I prevent underage gambling?

As parents, you can monitor the online activity of minors by using parental controls on their devices or cyber safety apps such as Net Nanny. You can also look out for signs of distress or sudden interest in the topic of gambling to ensure they are not involved in anything like this.