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Gambling safely: guidance for parents

Any organisation offering gambling facilities in Britain must have procedures in place to prevent underage gambling.

If offering online gambling, an operator will have a link to their Gambling Commission licence on their website. Here you will find information such as the operator’s address, website domain names, trading names and current licence status.

If an operator does not have a Commission licence, they are acting illegally by offering gambling to consumers in Great Britain.

Protecting young people

Generally, the minimum legal age for gambling in Great Britain is 18 years of age. This applies to adult gaming centres, betting shops, bingo halls, casinos, race tracks and online gambling.

The exceptions are the National Lottery and scratchcards where you can take part from the age of 16.

Skins gambling

In recent years a new phenomenon known as skins betting has emerged and this is of considerable concern, mainly because of its appeal to young people.

Skins are in-game digital items used within some of the most popular video game titles. They provide cosmetic alterations to a gamer’s weapons, avatar or equipment and are valued by reference to their rarity, aesthetics, utility and popularity.

Some websites have been using these skins as a currency for illegal gambling and there is a risk that children may be gambling,

We have a number of tools to tackle these illegal sites and in February 2017 we prosecuted two men for providing facilities to children for gambling using skins.

We are very concerned that other sites could emerge and would like parents and guardians to be vigilant – you could be giving money to child thinking that they are buying computer games or in-game items when in fact they are using funds to gamble

If you discover you child has been gambling on skins websites please let us know. We are determined to crack down on unlicensed websites but we need to hear from consumers who have been affected.

You can contact us via our confidential intelligence line.

Block gambling websites from a computer or mobile phone

The Internet Matters website, run by an independent not-for-profit organisation to help parents keep their children safe online, provides a guide on how to set parental controls on computers and mobile devices.

There are also a number of companies that offer software that will block access to gambling websites. GambleAware provides information about this software.

How do websites prevent underage people from gambling?

All gambling websites regulated by the Commission must have:

  • up to date policies and procedures designed to prevent underage gambling
  • a warning that underage gambling is an offence
  • a requirement that customers affirm they are legally old enough to gamble.

Organisations that offer help

The BigDeal website is run by GamCare, the organisation that runs the National Problem Gambling HelpLine and NetLine, and provides information about gambling specifically for young people.

The safer gambling section of our website provides information on ways to stay safe and organisations that provide help and support.