Scientific Games Scrutinised for Child-Friendly ContentBy Luke Haward, CDC Gaming ReportsDecember 29, 2017 at 3:48 pmThe massive gaming entity that is Scientific Games came under heated scrutiny this week after an expose running in the Guardian examined the company’s provision, via Facebook, of games “similar” to slots which allow wagering of purchased credits and which reportedly require only a mobile phone contract to register and purchase credit, without more substantial age verification.The games come in a range of cartoon formats, including the Flintstones, and a recent press release from the company themselves celebrated the launch of a title featuring the Simpsons, probably the world’s most famous family, back in June. According to the Guardian report, they even featured a Christmas special title running under the disturbing moniker of “Toys for Tots”.Neither Scientific Games nor Facebook responded to the Guardian for comment. This is a particularly damning singling-out given the recent stir in the UK press and government about child exposure to gaming, and the requirements of the UK Gambling Commission that advertisements put out by gambling operators do not feature content likely to be appealing to children. Granted, Facebook is an international presence, and headquartered in California, but its user base in the UK numbers many millions.What makes this a particularly bad spot for Scientific Games is that, although they’re a US company, they’re the ones with their name on many of the fixed odds betting terminals already under the spotlight in the UK at the moment. They also make gaming software for William Hill, Paddy Power Betfair and others.According to a recent study published by Augusta Free Press, the UK was one of the two most frequent searchers for the search term “slot”, accounting for over 22% of all searches for this term, and 5-10 times more frequent that numerous other nations including European. The only country to search “slot” more frequently was, of course, the USA. This is an issue over which the UK has a lot of concern, and a lot of leverage.Many games running as social gaming via Facebook and other forms of social media are centred around the practice of buying extra credits for further play, and are thus said to lure recreational players to deposit funds to continue playing at the same rate, or higher, as they could under early bonus conditions.There’s a good case to be made that it’s this subtlety of design which has allowed these games to resist any serious regulation, to fly under the radar thus far, and to attract the underage and vulnerable as a player pool. This is going to keep happening as long as there are loopholes to close or blind spots to be missed, but to see such a major player in international gaming at and about it, so blatantly, is still fairly shocking.