children on laptopsThe Children’s Commissioner in the UK has told the UK Gambling Commission that there is a need for tough new regulations to make it harder from children free-to-play online casino games.

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England made the comments during a recent meeting with UK Gambling Commission’s outgoing CEO Sarah Harrison and the Commission’s Executive Director, Tim Miller, the Sunday Times reported.

Ms. Longfield is extremely concerned that free casino games such as slot machines, roulette and other types of gambling can be easily accessed by children though tablets and smartphones without any age verification requirements. The normalization of such games in children encourage the “worst kinds of addictive behavior”, even when playing for free.

Casino operators, affiliate marketers and app developers will often use free to play casino games for demo purposes, allowing potential customers to try the games before depositing real money. Where the Children’s Commissioner would like to see regulations tightened is around age verification to play these games, with many accessible without proof of age at present.

The Sunday Times cited behavioral addiction expert Mark Griffiths, who was clear that ‘free games’ are the ‘no one risk factor’ for children and their future attitudes towards gambling. A recent survey conducted on behalf of the UK Gambling Commission found that up to half a million children engaged in some form of gambling-themed game every week.

The Gambling Commission has stepped up its efforts to hold online gambling operators accountable for their actions. They are currently reviewing the licenses of 5 casinos and potentially another 17 more following investigations into their practices around money laundering, underage deterrents and problem gambling. So far no online casino has had their UK license removed.