The union between social gaming and real-money gambling is iGaming’s final frontier, but it may be hitting a serious roadblock as it travels down under to Australia.
This week Nick Xenophon, a South Australian Senator, announced his intention to move that real-money social games be banned through the country.
With Aussies spending around $725 million on online gambling each year, Xenophon’s proposed bill could have a huge impact on the Australian gambling market. All told, Australians spend over $11 billion annually on gambling of all type, with much that going to legal slot machines called, Pokies.
The main target of Xenophon’s ire is a popular social gaming app from Playtika called, Slotmania, which allows children to play slots for prizes, but not cash. Because no actual cash is exchanged, games like Slotmania are exempt from Australian gaming laws, but not from the ire of anti-gambling activists.
According to Xenophon, who is also a member of the No Pokies political party, social gambling apps are a major threat to Australia’s youth, as he recently told The Australian newspaper.
The government has known for a long time that there is a serious issue here that needs action but instead it is still sitting on the fence. That’s why this legislation is urgently needed
He went on to say that social gaming/gambling apps like this are designed to turn children into full fledged gamblers:
It is laughable to say it’s not gambling because you can’t take your winnings out … If you can lose real money playing online pokies, surely that should be covered (by Australian law).
Xenophon plans to introduce his legislation when the Australian Federal Parliament convenes next month.
The Future of Social Gaming and Gambling
Across the world from Australia Mitch Garber, the CEO of Caesars Interactive was sharing his own thoughts on social gaming in an interview with OnlinePokerReport. Garber is one of the few big-time gaming executives who isn’t all that bullish on real-money social gaming.
Yeah, I think the point is that, you know, it’s easy to look at it and say that it looks like a complementary business, but it’s a multi-billion dollar business, so for us it’s a standalone business… It’s got, I believe, a different type of customer than the RMG business.
Garber also isn’t so sure that social gamers are prime targets for gaming conversion in the first place:
…just because it looks like a slot machine or it looks like a casino doesn’t make it gambling. The same way that Farmville is not a real farm, and the Department of Agriculture does not get involved in the Farmville game.
Real-money social gambling has, thus far, had a pretty smooth regulatory ride but that may not be the case going forward. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Xenophon and events in Australia as they develop.
What are your thoughts on real money gambling and social gaming? Is it a gateway to problem gambling? Let us know in the comments section below.