Problem gambling is set to get worse because of social media, writes Sally Gainsbury from the Gambling Treatment Clinic. Research shows gaming and gambling are converging and are being embraced by the smartphone generation.
This raises concerns about the lack of protection of children, as there are no specific policies on most of the 'games'.
Social media-savvy teenagers are embracing popular social casino ‘games’ and virtually increasing their chances of becoming gamblers, the results of which will not be felt fully for years to come but may include substantial gambling problems.
In an editorial published in the Fairfax Media today, Dr Sally Gainsbury from the School of Psychology, said the convergence of gaming and gambling was a social phenomenon, with regulation not keeping pace with new media that often enabled under-age gambling.
The market for social casino ‘games’ alone – which are among the most popular on social networking sites and include Zynga Poker, DoubleDown Casino and Slotomania – is predicted to grow to be worth more than US$4.4 billion (AU $5.75 billion) this year.
Dr Gainsbury, who this week also published an editorial in BASIS, the Brief Addiction Science Information Source published by the Harvard Medical School’s Cambridge Health Alliance, said:
“With new technologies on the rise, many popular social games replicate gambling activities and gambling products have been introduced based on popular online games."
Social media casino games are:
Dr Gainsbury said the social casino gaming market was estimated to account for four percent of all gaming industry revenues in 2017.
“This raises concerns about the lack of protection of children and teenagers, as there are no specific policies on most of the games," Dr Gainsbury said.
“Excitement, fun and competition seem to be just as important as money when looking at the motivation for young people to play the games.
”Online games often portray an unrealistic chance of winning; many adolescents have a limited availability to critically analyse the content and context of those games.
“Our children need to be protected and educated about social gambling games if we do not want to see a rise in problem gamblers in the future,” concluded Dr Gainsbury.
Dr Sally Gainsbury is Deputy Director of the Gambling Treatment Clinic in the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre.
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