CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Researchers are finding that children as young as 11 are gambling real money from their phones. Turns out, most of the “free” games in the app store are not actually free–they mostly use in-app purchases to make money. According to Statista, 43% of mobile app gaming revenue in 2017 came from in app purchases and 31% came from video ads.
Often times, there’s an option to buy “loot boxes.” at roughly $1 per virtual box, to add a random item to the game. As a result, kids are paying real money for the chance to get an exclusive item, and experts are now saying that this is gambling and could lead to a gambling problem later on in life.
A 2018 study on youth in West Virginia funded by the Problem Gambler’s Help Network of West Virginia found that nearly 50% gamble, and over 25% agreed with the statement “Gambling is a good way to make money.” Jennifer Davis-Walton, program director, said that unlike alcohol or drug use, many parents will condone gambling.
“Examples of ways parents condone gambling behavior include, but are not limited to, casino themed events for kids (i.e. prom/after prom, project graduation, etc), poker games sold in toy aisle, parents giving kids scratch off tickets as gifts/stocking stuffers, father-son sports betting together, parents/grandparents taking kids to Bingo, and parents unaware of loot boxes being like gambling and providing iTunes cards,” Davis-Walton said.
Now, the Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia is offering up to $5,000 each to community groups to prevent youth gambling. West Virginia non-profits who work with youth are eligible to receive the grant, and its purpose is to provide awareness of the dangers of gambling. This program was initiated last year and resulted in PSAs, studies, and hands-on activities for youth groups.
For more information about this opportunity, contact Jennifer Davis-Walton by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 304-583-4011.