Monday 1. August, 2016

Senator Xenophon Calls for Gambling Reforms to Include Video Games

South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has argued that video games should be included in any gambling reforms introduced in Australia. He claims that the law is outdated and does not address video games which are directly targeting children for gambling purposes.

Xenophon has singled out video games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive as games that encourage gambling-like behaviour, but which remain unregulated. Particularly, Xenophon is concerned with the secondary market that stems from these types of games.

In games such as Counter Strike, players are able to purchase special skins within the game. There are set fees to unlock items in the game; some of which are rare and can be worth a lot. The skins can be traded on dedicated game websites or even used like a currency for gambling on e-sport sites.

“This is the Wild West of online gambling that is actually targeting kids,” stated Senator Xenophon. “Instead of shooting avatars, parents soon find out that [their children] have shot huge holes through their bank accounts.”

Senator Xenophon is planning to introduce a bill to parliament when it goes back later in the month. It is currently unclear specifically which games will be included in the bill; however with casino pokies games appearing in the top five on the app store, it is possible that mobile games and in-app purchases will be included in Xenophon’s description of “these sorts of games.”

Sally Gainsbury, senior lecturer at the Centre for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University agreed that the laws need to be updated, warning that the prevalence of skins gambling and the ages of the gamblers is hard to track. However, she also acknowledged that classifying video games as gambling could be “problematic”.


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