Kids are secretly spending thousands of their parents' money betting on special video game wagering sites
- A small slice of the
video gamemarket, in which users can bet as little as $1 or as much as $500 on games like " Call of Duty," is exploding during the pandemic.
- Clinicians and
gamblingresearchers say they're worried some of the betting platforms don't do enough to keep kids out, and teens or even preteens could be at risk.
- A Business Insider review of four major platforms found an inconsistent approach to user verification, with some companies that appear to take the issue much more seriously than others.
Some kids have found a way to turn their passion for video games into profits — as well as losses — by placing bets on "
Video game wagering platforms, where gamers can bet as little as $1 and as much as $500 to play strangers on "Call of Duty," "Fortnite," and other games, have exploded during the pandemic, and venture capitalists have been increasingly interested in recent years. Some platforms don't do much to keep out underage users, and clinicians and researchers said they're concerned about kids developing gambling habits, a Business Insider investigation found.
New York-based attorney Ryan Morrison, who represents developers, gamers, and others in the video game ecosystem, said he's been approached by parents and kids who have lost hundreds of dollars, and sometimes even tens of thousands of dollars, on video game wagering.
"We get reached out to quite a bit, either by kids, scared their parents will find the credit card bill, or by parents who did find the credit card bill," he said.
Business Insider evaluated four of the top platforms that have emerged in recent years – Players' Lounge, Play One Up, UMG, and CMG – and found that there is no consistent age verification process. All the companies ask users to agree at signup that they're at least 18 years old.
From there, verification ranges from more stringent approaches like Players' Lounge, which asks users to take selfies with their identification at various stages — a step that former employee said doesn't go far enough. UMG, meanwhile, instructs kids on its site on the best way to take their winnings off that platform, language that a company spokesman said will change.
Players' Lounge and UMG both said they take age verification seriously. A representative for Play One Up declined to comment, while CMG did not respond to requests for comment.
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