Roblox is planning on updating its age guidelines to allow depictions of gambling, according to a news source which closely follows developments on the online game platform.
Bloxy News, an independent social media news page covering topics related to Roblox but not officially affiliated to the Roblox Corporation, reported that the platform intends to make the changes.
This will allow depictions of gambling, alcohol, dating and profanity, at a time when some social media and online gaming platforms are turning away from such content.
Roblox will soon allow the following to be depicted in experiences via Age Guidelines:
– Romantic themes/dating
– Alcohol reference/use
— Bloxy News (@Bloxy_News) February 8, 2023
A free-to-play platform, Roblox allows players to create their own games, although in-game virtual assets can be created and subsequently bought or sold using the ‘Robux’ currency.
Bloxy News asserts that the new guidelines can be found in Roblox APIs, which will allow game creators to assign age categories to their game creations should content revolve around topics such as gambling.
Should the account’s statement be accurate, the changes could prove somewhat controversial, especially in the US, due to Roblox’ large user-base under the age of 18.
Some reports have estimated that of the platform’s 164 million global users, a large proportion are under 16, with half of the US teenage population apparently holding an account.
The changes would also come at a time when various countries across the world are looking to or are already in the process of tightening regulations on betting and gaming advertising.
In the UK and the Netherlands for example, official advertising practices require operators to refrain from using active sports people – such as football players – in their marketing material, as such figures may have a strong appeal to younger audiences.
Meanwhile, whilst the betting and gaming industry in the US has been growing exponentially, recording strong revenues and contributing heavily to state taxes, the increase in advertising has caught some negative attention.
Notably, New York Congressman Rep. Paul Tonko tweeted yesterday that he is introducing a federal bill to counter ‘the problematic rise of predatory advertising by sports gambling companies’.
Today, I’m introducing the Betting on our Future Act to take federal action to reel in the problematic rise of predatory advertising by sports gambling companies. Many of you may have noticed these incessant ads, which experts say are contributing to a rise in problem gambling. pic.twitter.com/Uuo7NYjEvu
— Paul Tonko (@RepPaulTonko) February 9, 2023
Concerns around gambling content have already led to some platforms, such as Twitch and Snapchat, to implement changes. Streaming service Twitch clamped down on unlicensed casino providers using its site, whilst Snapchat adopted new ‘opt-out’ features to its platform.
Given the popularity of Roblox among young consumers, the introduction of ‘adult’ content such as gambling could provide further cause for concern among reformists on both sides of the Atlantic.