Thousands of children and young people are losing money on websites which allow them to trade virtual items, gambling experts have warned.

The Gambling Commission’s annual report has, for the first time, looked at the problem of so-called “skin betting”.

The items won – usually modified guns or knives within a video game known as a skin – can often be sold and turned back into real money.

The commission says cracking down on the industry is now a top priority.

The report found that:

  • 45% of 11-16 year-olds were aware of “skin betting”
  • 11% of 11-16 year-olds had placed bets using in-game items
  • 59% of boys knew about the activity compared with 31% of girls

Experts say third party websites enable children to gamble the virtual weapons – or skins – on casino or slot machine type games, offering them the chance to generate real money.

Overall, the report shows that around 370,000 11-16 year-olds spent their own money on gambling in the past week, in England, Scotland and Wales.

Most commonly, children were using fruit machines, National Lottery scratch cards or placing private bets.

– BBC News

Read more: Children as Young as 11 Introduced to Gambling

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