Monash University experts fear legislation currently does not have the power to maintain the growing epidemic that technology is creating an enhanced generation of child gamblers and youngsters addicted to online gambling.
Children with access to smartphones are now able to download mobile gambling games that let have access to the world wide web and the prospects of gambling away from home, on the bus or even in the midst of an unsuspecting classroom.
Monash risk behaviour expert Samantha Thomas believes it is now easier than ever for youngsters to have access to gambling applications through their smartphones and other smart devices which they constantly carry with them.
“This new technology is opening up opportunities for them to engage in gambling,” Dr Thomas said.
“They're carrying a gambling company around in their pocket all the time, in their school bags and on the way to school.
“The concern is it will normalise them into gambling later on.”
The current top three out of the top five applications available on the app store have shown to be gambling related. Two of the available apps are slot machine apps with the other as a poker application.
Both slot machine games are free and have more than a thousand reviews from satisfied customers. One application also boasts having a million daily users.
Alongside this, the Android Marketplace, the highest-grossing application is also a slots game which currently has been downloaded over 1 million times.
Dr Thomas says that the growing portability and ease of access of apps is becoming a worry.
“A concern for parents is that a lot of these applications no longer are on computers. You're able to have them through your mobile phones. So whereas we've always talked to parents about being aware of social media and making sure their computer is in a family room so they can keep an eye on what the kids are doing, now with smartphones they can just carry them around anywhere they want.”
Financial counsellor Yath Youen of Gambler's Help Eastern says that younger people are being exposed because of the spread of mobile devices.
“They are being groomed,” he said.
“Gambling is quite normalised. If it's on the phone, at the home and in the community, to them it's just something that's a part of life.”
Mr Youen called for more parents to be wary of the games.
“Parents should be a little bit more vigilant when it comes to having gambling products on their phone and gambling products also on the computer.”
Dr Thomas said that regulation is the key to success.
“The regulation is really struggling to keep up with the technology and there needs to be a much greater focus and a real urgent focus on how we protect kids from engaging in these sites.”
Monash Weekly has already contacted federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy for comment on the issue and is yet to be met with a reply.
Source: Monash Weekly