Posted May 28, 2014 by John Baintree in News

One Direction Themed Slot Machines Encourage Kids to Gamble


We wouldn’t dream of allowing marketing for tobacco aimed at children would we, neither would we tolerate advertising that presented alcohol in a child friendly manner. We understand that it’s just too risky to present addictive products to young, easily influenced minds. So, why on earth do we tolerate gambling being targeted at our children?

Take a stroll down any famous seaside resort and you’ll come across the arcade. Once upon a time the arcade was the mainstay of the British seaside weather, perfect for all the family when the British weather meant you needed some indoor fun. Filled with memorable attractions such as that grabby machine that would never lift up the toy you wanted and the shove ha’penny machine they made really great family memories.

Wander along the seafront today and you’ll still find the arcades there but wander inside and you’ll see how everything has changed. The games console has brought about a complete change in our entertainment expectations. Arcades are now full to the brim with entertainment of a different nature. Alongside the console game shoot ‘em ups there is also a mixture of casino type gambling machines.

Bright lights, loud music and fast paced action are perfect draws for the young who might wander into these places. Alarmingly, if that wasn’t enough it is not unusual to find casino slots that are specifically branded to attract children. Machines themed with Hello Kitty and One Direction brands were spotted in a seaside arcade by Cairan McCormak last summer. Now, we know that you have to be over 18 to play on a gambling machine in the UK but let’s look at this a little more closely.

One Direction, the most famous boy band on the planet at the moment, and who do you think they are popular with. Girls of course (well not necessarily, but that’s another story) and of a certain age.  Do you think the One Direction target audience is over 18, as are the gamblers in our arcade? I think not, they are most definitely 14- 18 year olds. So the slot machine owners who licensed the One Direction branding appear to be quite cynically targeting young children.

Ironically, reports were also seen that two One Direction stars, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson were thrown out of an arcade at motorway services. The reason; they could not produce ID to prove they were both over 18!