Gambling Awareness Project Sheffield

Online, gambling is transforming. These activities are not seen as traditional forms of gambling but have gambling like qualities which can make them harmful to young people. See below for some examples of gambling like behaviours which are associated with gambling-related harms.


Social Casinos

Social Casinos are online casino games such as slot machines or roulette which are accessible via the internet or often played on apps. Instead of using real money online casino games are played using virtual money and due to this have little regulation in place which prevents young people from accessing those games.  Recent research has found that social casinos may be a gateway for later problem gambling as 19% of adults suggest that social casinos influenced them to gamble with real money.


Crypto currency

Research has shown that nearly 30% of cryptocurrency owners in the UK are aged between 18 and 29. Cryptocurrency is digital currency and comes in various formats such as Bitcoin, Ether and Shiba Inu. It can be used to make investments, purchase online goods and be used in online gambling.  Trading with cryptocurrency is similar to trading on the stock markets as when making an investment you are taking a risk on whether the currency will increase or decrease in value. However, unlike the stock market, Cryptocurrency is unregulated by governing bodies which means you are at greater risk of financial instability and fraud. Research has highlighted the similarities between Cryptocurrency and gambling and have found 43% of problem gamblers own Cryptocurrency.


Gambling in Video Games

Video games are available on consoles such as the PlayStation, Xbox and also mobile devices.  Gaming can provide many benefits for young people such as creative escapism, enhancing communication and team work skills, improving tactical reasoning abilities and providing a sense of community. However, in the last few years gambling like activities are appearing in video games.  This is particularly problematic as these behaviours not only normalise gambling for young people but could also could trigger psychological responses similar to gambling behaviours as they promote young people to take risks in order to gain a better outcome. Some countries around the world have banned gambling like behaviours in video games but the UK has not yet implemented any restrictions. 


What are Skins?

Skins are online decorative items which can be bought or won during game play and allow players to customise their character by changing their clothes or weapons. The Gambling Commission found nearly 40% of young people had used either virtual or real money to pay for in-game items such as Skins. Online, players can sell, trade or bet their skins for virtual currency which can they be spent on real world items or online activities. When gaming, skins might also be used as betting currency, privately between friends. It’s important to be careful if taking part in skins betting or trading as research has shown that doing so increases your chance of experiencing gambling-related harms which can leave you vulnerable to the development of mental health problems.


What are Loots Boxes?  

Within the UK it’s estimated that 60% of young people have opened a loot box in the last 12 months. Loot boxes are found within game play and give the player a chance to improve their game by making an in game purchase of a mystery item using real money or in game currency. Loots boxes typically contain virtual currency or skins which alter the appearance of your character or weapons which can improve your game play. Loots boxes are considered a gambling like behaviour as players are encouraged to take a risk and spend money on a randomised item to improve their game play. Due to the nature of loot boxes many countries have either banned them from game play or have tightened restrictions as to how they appear in video games, however within the UK no restrictions have yet been put forward for loot boxes despite reports showing that they may be causing harm to young people. Researchers have also found evidence to suggest the more loot boxes a gamer opens the more likely they are to be at risk of gambling harms.