The app getting kids addicted to gambling
PARENTS are being warned about an addictive app described as "instant scratchies for kids" that could not only drain their bank account but hook their children on gambling.
Now the federal government is being urged to tighten regulations around such games that use gambling tricks to encourage in-app purchases and keep users interested.
Experts have singled out Might And Magic: Elemental Guardians, which has an instant scratchie/lottery section and a system of rewards and prizes similar to a poker machine.
Although the game is free to download, users are asked to pay as much as $180 at a time for treasure chests, known as "loot boxes".
Users are also encouraged to use a digital scratchie to win rewards.
Bond University Associate Professor Dr James Birt said game developers Unisoft has failed to adequately warn people of the dangers.
"Gambling mechanics that we typically encounter in instant scratchies are now being presented in mobile premium games as a way for individuals to win rewards," the digital expert said. "Poker machines have probabilistic algorithms to pay out rewards and these games use a similar styles.
"It has lots of lights, bells, whistles, pretty presentations - like what you would see in the pokies."
The Apple Store recommends the game for people aged nine and over because of "infrequent/mild cartoon or family violence".
But Dr Birt said there should at least be some reference to the gambling element in the game.
He has called on the industry and the government to install a classification, similar to that for violence or sex, warning of the gambling themes contained within games. Failing that, it should be restricted to over 18s.
In 2017, the Senate established an inquiry "into the extent to which gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items may be harmful". Its findings will be out in September.
According to the parental advisory warnings, nine-year-old twins Milla and Neeah Monaghan are fine to download and play the game. But Paddington mum Nyree said that is not going to happen.
"I would definitely not be letting my kids spend money on either purchasing an app or by making in-app purchases; it would get out of control," she said.
A spokesman for the Department of Communications said: "Computer games are assigned a classification rating and consumer advice is provided according to standards in the National Classification Code and Guidelines for Classification."