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Gambling in games: Apps provide children with legal access to slot machines

Glücksspiel in Spielen: Apps bieten Kindern legal Zugriff auf Slotmaschinen

In the latest issue of Neo Magazine Royale, ZDF shows how open gambling is offered in games that also have children as their target group. As in the case of booty boxes, the inadequate legal definition of real gambling is exploited, which enables a USK release “from 0 years”.

The program, which explains the topic in clear terms to a broad public, has chosen the currently popular app Coin Master, which pretends to be an adventure game. The actual game seems simple, it is a village to build, defend and attack other villages at the push of a button to steal money. Each action costs money, however, prices for buildings are rising rapidly. Income is only available to players through a slot machine where money can be won. The supplier releases five experiments per hour, further trials and raw materials are sold.

Incentives in game design

The smallest package with 70 attempts costs 5.50 euros, 2,800 attempts are offered for 110 euros with the addition of “best value”. There are also bundle offers. These suggest limited availability and nominally high discounts of 70 or 80 percent a gigantic equivalent, which results from the comparison with the equally horrendous prices of individual offers.

Further buying incentives set the rising prices in combination with waiting times; It is increasingly difficult to resist the desire for immediate satisfaction of needs, because both are constantly increasing and setting higher hurdles – especially at a young age. So this is a “Slot machine on the mobile phone of children, where I have to throw in money all the time“, Moderator Jan Böhmermann summarizes. The procedure is in principle common in mobile games to the use of gambling mechanics, but not always so blatant to observe.

Appealing to children

The game was, however, as the provider seeks to hold in a statement, not designed to address children under 16 years. This statement, however, the presentation provides the presentation with friendly, colorful colors and the comic look. Marketing also contradicts this statement: Coin Master is specifically promoted by influencers like Bianca Heinicke (Bibis Beatuy Palace), who are popular with younger age groups.

This has a significant impact on the success: As the ZDF points out, the campaign has led to a massive increase in the popularity of Coin Master. Overall, the provider was able to generate 280 million US dollars in sales, according to research of the consignment “With a slot machine for children without legal protection of minors, completely legal“. The connection to real gambling exists also over the offerer. Behind the startup Moon Active, which runs the game, are investors from the gambling industry, has researched the ZDF.

Straight to the casino

The reason is the broadcast in the conception of the app: “Children and adolescents […] Learn at Coin Master on her mobile gambling“They are easily influenced and would be the potential customers for slot machines of tomorrow, which would currently be less in demand in casinos. This argument is underpinned by the last level of the game. Mission 205 has an arcade to the subject, shows the mission, which may not be understood as a cynical self-reflection, but a request for connecting game.

Children are particularly vulnerable to such mechanisms because they are “manipulable“, It says in the broadcast. In addition, they experience gambling through such apps as something normal and develop a positive basic attitude toward them, Dr. Tobias Hayer, who researches addiction at the University of Bremen, the ZDF. “Often excessive distribution rates“Would also fuel unrealistic earnings expectations.

Thanks to children's laws

However, the USK does not see such games as a real game of chance on the basis of the law, but only as simulated gambling, although the dangers are at least as great. However, providers do not have to repay money and are not subject to any controls, they can freely decide whether and how often something is won. It uses algorithms that individually tune offers in the shop and winnings on player behavior in order to maximize buying incentives: “Simulated gambling is therefore gambling that has less to do with luck than real gambling“, Judges Böhmermann.

Coin Master is now
Coin Master is now “16+”, other coin games are not

In the meantime, Coin Master is no longer “from 0 years” onwards in Apple's App Store as well as in the Play Store of Android, but with a release “from 16 years”. An effective restriction does not mean that, emphasizes the ZDF, especially since many other “Coin” -Apps continue to be available with the same principle “from 0 years”. However, the BPjM could intervene. However, she only works for an indexing application that no one has asked for this type of game. The ZDF is not eligible to apply, explains Böhmermann, which therefore calls on employees of offices or educational institutions to act in order to initiate a dispute of the test center, which creates a precedent.

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