The social gambling and gaming market is growing fast with the introduction of the commercial gambling services through most of the social media platforms such as Facebook.
Moreover, some of the top gambling websites are also purchasing some of the game developing companies (in the case of IGT purchasing Double Down) and other social gambling websites such as bwin.party collaborating with gaming companies like Zynga.
There is a wide array of “games” that have popularly come to be referred to as the social gambling games, that are widely played online through mobile devices or laptop computers. For example, Rainbow Riches games. Some of the so called social gambling games are “social” in that people have to interact with each other to play the game.
About Social Gambling Games
This social element entirely lies on the people playing these games, who can play them directly or indirectly through the various social media platforms.
Alternatively, there are people, who can play these social gambling games indirectly in the sense that communication is key for user experience or during the marketing of the game.
There are other games, that people may view them from a gambling perspective but upon closer look, they fail to meet the legal definition of a gambling game.
This is especially if the game is played involves a prize and may incorporate some of the gambling mechanics such as the use of a dice or cards, crucially from a very narrow legal point of view, if the prize to be claimed isn’t money or linked to money, then it is not deemed as gambling under the UK gambling and legislation laws.
Some of the popular games that can be played online are entirely free, but majority of them have the option of paying real money to receive chips, add extra play minutes or receive other tokens to continue playing the game.
There is however, a boundary that exists between commercial gambling and social gaming and the difference has become blurred of late as a result of:
- The continuous use of the social media platform to promote social gambling ad gaming
- The increase in convergence between the products that were initially used for traditional gambling and the social gaming business
- The huge investments that various companies have made in a bid to promote their newly developed products or promoting the already existing products
Which Social Games are usually looked into by the UK gambling regulator?
The UK gambling regulator closely monitors the various games where, if the virtual prizes are money’s worth or real money, the will be classified under commercial gambling.
Moreover, they also scrutinize games that involve recognizable traditional gambling methods such as slots, dice and cards. In simple words, the games that are similar and are played like the regulated gambling games.
What concerns do the UK gambling regulatory body have?
The body considers that the underlying potential risk that is in social gambling is broadly categorized into two main areas. They are as follows:
- The problem gambling, which is classified as a type risk. It is that which people spend too much time and money on the game.
- Consumer protection, which is also classified as a type risks. A good example of consumer protection involves people being exploited by being offered unfair games or falling victims to scams.
The UK gambling regulator has as a result advised the government to regulate all the available social gaming activities to within the scope of gambling regulation especially if they consider that the risks can’t be addressed through responsible self-regulation through operators.
How many UK citizens are actually participating in Social Gambling Games?
Although we haven’t mentioned that the UK gambling regulator mentioned that adults as well as young people are participating in social gambling activities, it is possible for the gambling-based social games to inspire young people to participate in real money games.
However, from the data obtained through the Young People Omnibus in the year 2014, there was a huge significant in the decrease in the number of children and young adults who played one or more of the practice/free social gambling games on the internet. This was represented with a drop from 15% in the year 2011 to 10% as at 2014.
What has the body done to regulate the social gambling games?
The commission has taken some time to analyze the available evidence to have a better understanding if there are characteristics of the upcoming social gaming industry that seem to pose a risk to the general public and if there is any characteristics, it assesses if there are enough measures put in place.
For the commission to form their assessment, they ensure that they have:
- Publish a detailed review of what is already known of the potential risks
- Asked the RGSB (The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board) for advice pertaining the potential risks. The RGSB had an expert seminar in 2012 to discuss social gambling and gaming.
- Work hand in hand with the game providers so as to obtain and analyze the player data that they obtained across the UK, Ireland, Scotland and Australia. This data collected was also considered with the data collected from the social applications.
What is the body planning to do next?
With the data and facts obtained, the commission is planning on continuing to monitor closely the issue of social gambling and gaming. Moreover, they are planning to continue working hand in hand, as well as partnering with some of the top social games developers and regulators.
This will help the other regulators to continue moderating and potential risks that may arise from the social gaming whenever they emerge. In particular, they are planning on working with the RGSB on a long term basis to monitor is social gambling and gaming may lead to or cause any harmful behaviors in adults as well as teenagers.