Advertising to kids is generally a bad idea, particularly since they're far more impressionable than adults - and we all know how gullible adults can be at times. That's why the government tends to crack down on dodgy advertising aimed at children, and online casinos are the latest to face its wrath.
The Gambling Commission has ordered over 450 gambling sites to immediately remove a number of games it believes are marketed towards under 18s. According to an official letter sent out to offenders, cartoony graphics, cute characters, and sometimes even the names used in advertising are designed to appeal to kids. Because these games accept bets up to £600, this would be more than a simple case of Jr getting hold of mum and dad's iPad and buying Candy Crush power-ups.
This new crackdown comes in the aftermath of an investigation by The Times, which found that gambling sites believe they can take advantage of a loophole in the law letting them make child-oriented games without violating regulations. Age verification checks were in place for anyone wanting to pay with money, but no such checks existing for a free-to-play version. This free-to-play version was seen as a sales pitch, and more sinisterly a sales pitch designed to sell the merits of gambling to kids.
While some gambling companies have denied the accusations (naturally), other like William Hill have reportedly welcomed the move. Presumably this is to avoid any negative publicity or legal action, since by removing the games would imply that it had been attempting to advertise to under-18s in the first place. [The Times via Engadget]