Social casino games for under 18s – harmless fun or a recipe for disaster?

Belle and I have enjoyed many a UK mini break together over the last few years. Some we enjoy more than others, Belle being less keen on places with previous food on the cutlery or disorderly bacon queues. One thing we do both enjoy though if we are staying at a holiday park is a trip to the amusement arcade.

(Classy and sophisticated as I am.)

I’m not saying we dump our suitcases and rush out to immediately spend all of our holiday money on the tacky grab machines or anything, but there is something sweet and nostalgic about half an hour spent slowly feeding a handful of two pence pieces into one of those games where they gradually nudge their way towards the edge of the shelf, rewarding you sporadically with the clatter of coins into the tray below.

I’ve never given it a lot of thought from a moral point of view, but with the emergence of more and more online gambling style games aimed at children, it has got me thinking. I don’t imagine for a minute that the 2p slot machines are laying the foundations for a gambling addiction, but are we being too relaxed about introducing children to gambling? Could we be setting our kids up for a fall?


Photo credit – Free Bingo Land


Although the online casino games aimed at children aren’t gambling in the traditional sense, there are still potentially risks attached, psychologically and financially. The addictive nature of games promoted by sites like Slotomania shouldn’t be underestimated, regardless of whether or not money is involved, and are these really the sort of habits and behaviours we want our children to get a thrill from?

They certainly aren’t harmless money wise either; you may not have to pay to place a bet but like so many of these so called ‘free’ online games there are plenty of ways that we are encouraged to part with our cash. Think Candy Crush and that casual 69p that you hand over for a few extra lives.

Skill versus luck

One person I talked to about it on Twitter raised an interesting point about social casino games being based purely on luck, wondering if this added to the danger. It’s not like kids are even learning anything is it? Any James Bond fan will appreciate the value of being able to play a good hand at Baccarat – you never know when you might have to prove yourself against a Russian spy or use your card skills to seduce a sleek, dark-haired woman in a cocktail dress – but where is the skill or the benefit in knowing how to feed coin after coin into a fruit machine? What lessons does that teach children about effort and reward or the art of seduction?

How do you feel about casino games aimed at kids? 

If you can spare a minute please do take this very quick survey. I’ll be publishing the results next month.

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  1. 12 January, 2015 / 11:16 am

    We don’t play the lottery or bingo or anything… Kids do love the 2p machines at the seaside though – but I don’t htink it’s giving them a ‘gambling habit’

  2. 12 January, 2015 / 12:59 pm

    I must admit I’ve always steered the kids away from the amusement arcades just because I feel it will be a waste of money although I do let them bash the hell out of a fruit machine in the pub sometimes but no money is ever involved.

  3. 12 January, 2015 / 1:49 pm

    When ever we go to my in-laws on the coast, the kids LOVE paying a visit to the arcade on the pier! It’s a family tradition now, and i’m pretty sure i’m not setting them up to be gamblers ;) !!

  4. 12 January, 2015 / 9:31 pm

    I’m so guilty of loving the 2p machines at Blackpool illuminations. Gah. I enjoy it less since having Ebony though, we didn’t even go in to the arcade this year, it looked far too depressing.x

  5. 14 January, 2015 / 4:15 pm

    I have such a soft spot for 2p machines, and Theo has played on them numerous times and it never entered my head that we were introducing him to gambling! I think if its just every once in a while, whilst on holiday or visiting somewhere then that is all it is! Same as when we were kids! We don’t play the lottery and I have never placed a bet in my life, so I guess it doesn’t do much harm?

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