Social Casinos Online
Social gaming is one of those things that is so new nobody really knows exactly what they mean when they talk about it. This wouldn’t be a problem if we were talking about a new kind of sock, but since were talking about casinos and real money online gambling it could be a issue for regulators.
What’s the big deal?
As Ivor Jones at Numis Securities commented recently during a GamblingCompliance workshop, imagine what would happen if a company set up, “a chain of premises across the UK which invite[d] children from 12-up to come in and play casino games”. Imagine if they were given free chips and could buy more.
This quote neatly highlights the issue regulators are faced with: social gaming is thought of as an innocent activity that it is acceptable for under-18s to be involved in. But as our infographic shows, the authorities may not be able to ignore this sector of the economy much longer.
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So as the number of players, operators and websites multiplies, how will the authorities react? First we need a few key facts:
Key Social Casino Facts
Here we’ve cherry picked some of the most important trends in social gaming from the last couple of years:
- “In just under a year, the market for social gambling games has doubled to $1.6 billion worldwide” (see SuperDataResearch). This kind of growth surely means that the risk increases of children gamblers going unnoticed.
- According to a study by Flurry Analytics, about one in six mobile social gamers are under 18. Although no data is given for the social casino niche, it would come as no surprise to find that children are being enticed into this segment.
- The reason this feels somewhat inevitable is less easy to quantify but easily visible in our infographic: the colour schemes used by social casinos clearly incorporate brighter colour schemes. As this pinboard about teen packaging clearly shows, neon colours appeal to teenagers.
In addition, Charles Cohen, CEO of mobile gambling specialist Probability, recently told GamblingCompliance that the accelerated rate at which social casino games pay out virtual chips gives players a distorted view of what real gambling is like and could lead to overconfidence. “It’s like you’re breaking the bank,” he said.
If you combine the exponential growth of this sector with the possibility that it could be giving young people artificially high expectations of how much they can win playing casino games then you have the ingredients for a deterioration in problem gambling in the UK and other countries where its regulation is currently lacking.
Which Brands to Watch
Here are some of the leading social casino brands.
The first few are examples of casino games modelled on the success of social games like FarmVille where you are given free chips when you join and often every time you sign in but if you find you want more then you need to buy them.
- DoubleDown Casino – Just one of many on Facebook
- GSN Casino Games – see this portal.
- Big Fish Games
This is just the tip of the iceburg; there are already hundreds of social gambling apps featuring slots, roulette, poker and other table games.
Meanwhile, in the UK a couple of companies have already launched real money Facebook casino apps that incorporate some of the social aspects that have made sites like GSN and Big Fish popular. One of the most well known is Slots Friendzy.
In the case of these real money social casinos, the theory is that it is difficult for under-18s to take part since a credit card is needed to make a deposit. However, unsurprisingly there have already been cases of children getting access to their parents wallets. There seem to be some simple actions you can take to make this more difficult. Will this be enough?
In conclusion, social gaming is predicted to grow and grow and governments and regulators need to keep a close eye on who is playing and how much they are spending. Gambling responsibly is hard enough already, without more distractions.