A new study commissioned by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation in Australia and covering the convergence of gambling and gaming in digital media has been published by an academic team led by Dr. Sally Gainsbury of Southern Cross University.
The project explored implications for young people flowing from the growing convergence between digital gaming and gambling, studying their gambling behaviour.
Key findings of the team were:
* Gambling and gaming are converging. Gambling products are increasingly incorporating gaming themes and elements, such as elements of skill. Video games like social casino games imitate gambling, and gambling is permitted on gaming results, such as with eSports;
* Playing social casino games is not uncommon among young people, with 13 to 23 percent of adolescents reporting playing them in the past 12 months;
* While for some young people, playing social casino games may increase their gambling, through normalisation or inflated confidence of winning, for others the games act as a substitute, reducing their interest in actual gambling;
* Advertising collected during the project glamorised and normalised gambling and encouraged play. Some advertising suggested it was possible to learn how to gamble using social casino games. Some also promoted their product as compulsive or addictive.
The report makes a number of recommendations for action by key agencies including government, social networking sites and industry, with the aim of minimising gambling harm among young people:
* Policy makers and operators are encouraged to regularly consult with experts to discuss the best strategies for minimising harms associated with any new and existing products;
* International standards should be used where possible to classify games using a single set of guidelines for developers;
* Policies should promote industry standards and higher levels of self-regulation due to difficulties with enforcement and compliance when dealing with international companies;
* Discussions should be held with SNS and website operators to reduce the exposure of young people to advertising for gambling products; particularly marketing that may be appealing to youth, including offshore gambling sites;
* Gambling-themed games provided by gambling operators should require the same policies and restrictions as apply to gambling products, even if these do not require monetary payments or return outcomes of monetary value;
* Practice games should include information about responsible and problem gambling, be clearly labelled as for adult use only, and should not be advertised in a way that is appealing to youth;
* Gambling-themed games should allow users to set limits on their time and monetary expenditure, access summaries of the time and money spent within the game, and information about problematic game play. Users should be able to self-exclude from these games;
* Gambling-themed games should include warnings that these may not be suitable for people who have gambling-related problems, for children and that the games may not accurately depict gambling;
* Games should not include links to or advertisements for gambling products;
* Public education and awareness campaigns are needed, particularly to inform parents, teachers and young people about the potential negative impact of gambling-themed games;
* Parents should be encouraged to monitor children’s game use and educate young people about gambling and the risks involved within this activity.