The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned that children can access online gambling websites too easily and that they are often exposed to ads for online gambling sites.
According to the commission's recent informal survey of 100 popular gambling websites, roughly 20 per cent had no warning, and where warnings were disclosed they were difficult to find.
The report also found that most gaming sites lack "effective" blocking mechanisms to keep children away from online gambling, and some do not have any blocks at all.
"Our informal review of gambling websites, child-oriented sites and non-gambling sites was a valuable education," said FTC chairman Timothy Muris. "We learned that online gambling and kids is a bad bet," he said.
The report found that the most common types of gambling for kids are card games and sports betting. The FTC also found that sites popular among teenage online gamers contain a disproportionate number of gambling ads. Included are gaming sites that specialise in action-adventure, sports and other "non-gambling" computer games.
"Because internet gambling is a solitary activity, people can gamble uninterrupted and undetected for hours at a time," the report said.
The FTC also warned that, even though every state prohibits gambling by minors, it is easy for kids to access online gambling sites, especially if they have access to credit or debit cards.
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