McDonald’s has rolled out a new line of Nintendo themed toys for their Happy Meals. One of these is a Super Mario slots toy, which is drawing criticism from the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG).
Jennifer Kruse, Executive Director of the FCCG, has been very vocal on what she sees as a major issue regarding gambling.
“We were shocked when we noted the slot machine toy in a Happy Meal here in Florida,” she says.
“Nintendo and McDonald’s need to be attentive to the messages their products are promoting among children.”
Kruse adds, “Youngsters are very impressionable. Despite the restrictions to gamble among minors, research reveals that adolescents are involved in gambling activities and are at higher risk for developing gambling problems.”
Super Mario Slots Toy Brings Up Ethical Issue on Toys
Companies generally avoid anything to do with promoting gambling to children. After all, the legal gambling age in most jurisdictions is either 18 or 21.
McDonald’s has created a dilemma by offering a gambling related toy in Happy Meals, which are typically purchased by/for kids.
“Just because you cannot easily ‘see’ a hazard, does not mean it doesn’t exist,” says Kruse.
“Had the Super Mario Happy Meal toy highlighted a bottle of beer or bloodshot eyes. Or had the fantasy character smoking a cigarette, government and others would be up in arms.
“Unfortunately, we can no longer afford a double standard when research confirms that problem gambling is a growing public health issue. In general, and especially among adolescents, that demands attention now.”
No Word from McDonald’s on the Matter
It’s unclear if McDonald’s will pull the Super Mario slots toy. They haven’t commented on the matter, and the product is still being offered in their Happy Meals.
But if enough organizations complain, then it’s very likely that the toy will eventually be history.