Kids Legally Playing Poker In VR Casinos
Primary school children are playing rounds of Texas Hold ‘Em in virtual reality casinos owned by one of the world’s largest betting groups.
Pokerstars VR, owned by Dublin-based Flutter Entertainment, and Poker VR, from Californian company Mega Particle are targeted in a Bloomberg expose that revealed children as young as 10 or 11 are frequenting the virtual poker tables.
No money changes hands in either game – at least not through bets.
In Pokerstars, users can pay for extra virtual chips and “decorative items like guns and toys.”
Both games are available on Meta” Oculus Quest store.
“Quest devices are designed for children ages 13 and up, and some experiences are only for people 18 and up,” said a spokesperson for Meta.
“We strongly encourage parents who choose to allow children 13 and up to use the headset to monitor their use, limit the time they spend using the headset, and ensure they take breaks.”
These “strong encouragements” are recommendations, not laws. As is Flutter’s insistence that Pokestar players must be over 18 (Poker VR likewise ‘bans’ those under 13).
In Australia, as in the UK and US, playing poker for no money is perfectly legal, treated much like a video game. So these virtual casinos are merely harmless gateways into the world of gambling.
“If you took a child into a casino there would be a public outcry,” said Carolyn Harris, a UK MP and chair of a cross-party gambling harm group, told Bloomberg.
“This is no different. This is giving children access to what a real casino is like. They need to protect children and vulnerable people and the government has to take responsibility for that.”
A Flutter spokesperson assured they have “a zero-tolerance approach to any player that acts in breach our of terms of service and community standards, circumvents our age rating, uses toxic language or behaves inappropriately, all of which can lead to permanent bans.
“We are investing to enhance player protections, including the roll-out of AI-driven tools to support our moderators, and are working closely with Meta and other technology partners to continually raise standards.’’