Never mind the rhetoric: Underage statistics are headed the right way, say Rank executive

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Taking the stand at last month’s parliamentary talks on kids and gambling, the Rank Group’s David Williams laid out core stats which drew a very different picture to that of the familiar “depressing” and myopic media narrative.

Last month the Rank group took the opportunity in addressing legislators to set the record straight on core issues regarding the characteristics of underage gambling in Britain.
In a speech as part of a wider parliamentary discussion on the subject, Rank’s director of public affairs David Williams redressed a media narrative which he claimed had been both “depressing” and “polarising.”
Williams impressed on parliament the fact that, quite contrary to public perception, the participation of children in gambling in Great Britain has actually “declined, quite significantly” over the past seven years: from 23 per cent (on a past- week basis) in 2011, to just 14 per cent last year.
Rank exec was also keen to drive home that“the vast majority” of gambling activity involving those aged 16 and under is, as of current legislation, completely legal: frequently taking the simple form of bets between friends and family, or games of cards for token prizes.
On the AWP front meanwhile, Williams pointed to Gambling Commission statistics which show record low levels of underage access to age-restricted machines.
“The proportion of children gambling on age-restricted products has fallen from 14 per cent in 2011 to 6 per cent in 2017,” he said. “We may decide that such activities ought to be banned – in reality, these are matters for legislation and enforcement.”
Saliently, Williams then drew focus towards the growing cross-over between the video game sector and gambling-like activities. Falling as video games do outside the Gambling Commission’s apparent area of expertise, Williams argued that the growing (and unopposed) market of wagering in-game content highlighted glaring disparities in the political landscape faced by both the entertainment and gambling industries.
“Loot boxes and skins have entered our lexicon, and in-app purchases are evidently part of the gaming landscape for some young people,” he told legislators.“I do believe that enlightened and responsible operators are investing in safer gambling and finding technology-led solutions to some of the issues we face, whilst video game developers are held to a lower level of scrutiny.”
“That’s not a whinge,”he added.“It’s a call to action.”

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