Should YouTube Influencers Be Promoting Gambling To Kids

s many of you know, Jake Paul, RiceGum and many other large YouTube channels were recently involved in the promotion of a crate gambling website called Mystery Brand. This obviously, isn’t the first time someone has promoted a site like that, but it raises cause for concern as Jake has stated his videos are made for kids. Recent videos by Jake Paul and RiceGum where they promote a mystery box site made me question their ethics.

On a surface level, the recent mystery box trend that permeates many YouTube channels seems harmless. But at a deeper level, mystery boxes pose a risk to impressionable kids and anyone with a gambling addiction.

The Jake Paul And RiceGum Controversy

Jake Paul and RiceGum have massive followings on YouTube at about 17.6 million and 10.8 million subscribers respectively. Their followers are predominantly impressionable kids who are easily influenced by their on-screen antics. The majority of Jake Paul’s and RiceGum’s videos are entertaining, funny and harmless. But things took a turn for the worst when both influencers promoted to their young viewers.

What makes this so unethical is that the site utilizes a gambling gimmick to dispense sought after items. Users pay a flat fee, and then they can choose a box depicting the product that it possibly holds. Of course, they’re unlikely to ‘open’ a box that features the product depicted or one equal to its monetary value. The YouTube channel, H3H3, covered this matter and eloquently pinpointed everything wrong with Jake Paul’s and RiceGum’s videos.

What YouTube Needs To Do

Mystery Brand reached out to me about using a few clients of mine, and we turned down their offer. I believe that was the right decision as shielding younger audiences from harmful content and websites is important. But we shouldn’t bear the burden of protecting kids from questionable content, and YouTube should take greater responsibility.

YouTube should require content creators to implement an age restriction policy, especially when they’re promoting anything gambling related. If violated content creators should receive a strike for violating the platform’s Community Guidelines, which would be a fitting punishment for Jake Paul’s and RiceGum’s recent controversial videos.

Nickelodeon’s Gambling Ads

But harmful content aimed at kids isn’t available only online. The popular children’s television network, Nickelodeon has found itself in hot water for breaching advertising content rules in Ireland. After monitoring ads on 12 channels during 2015 and 2016, the Broadcast Authority of Ireland (BAI) identified 28 breaches of the Children’s Communications Code broadcast from Nickelodeon. Six of these breaches were for betting services that promote gambling.

BAI’s advertising content rules require that TV ads promoting products and services to children under six deliver the message orally of any on-screen print. Applying this rule helps younger audiences understand the messaging of these ads. While this is a partial solution, is it really ethical for networks such as Nickelodeon to advertise gambling to kids in the first place?

During 2018, Belgium and the Netherlands declared loot boxes as gambling and made them illegal in their respective territories. In Singapore, vending machines containing mystery boxes have been banned by law enforcement officials. Given that a growing number of countries are cracking down on gambling gimmicks, it’s time for brands to reconsider the ethical and legal ramifications of what they promote.

The Bottom Line Whether, you’re a brand, content creator, or influencer it’s important not to be beholden by the latest trends especially if these are ethically questionable. Loot and mystery boxes have gained traction in gaming and online culture, but they also promote gambling to the young and impressionable. Two popular YouTubers tarnished their reputations by promoting gambling, and countries are cracking down on loot boxes that will affect gaming companies.