Wednesday August 5,2015 : CALLS FOR TIGHTER CURBS ON AUSSIE ONLINE GAMBLING
Concerns that social network promos and casino games attract the young.
A new Australian academic study based on surveys of 2,100 respondents has triggered concerns that social media promotions and casino-style games may be encouraging younger people to gamble.
The study was commissioned by the government-funded Gambling Research Australia, and was headed by the ubiquitous Australian academic, Dr. Sally Gainsbury of the Southern Cross University.
Gainsbury said the survey found that 28 percent of youth aged 12 to 17 who played casino- style games moved up to spending more time and money on real gambling.
A third of adolescent game players, and 15 percent of adults, believed playing social games would increase their chances when gambling for real money.
"The Internet has changed the way that gambling is provided, and social media offers a highly accessible platform to promote products. Games can be problematic in their own right and regulators and game operators should consider further actions to protect vulnerable consumers," the study concluded.
Gainsbury said that the study showed that online gambling operators internationally were making growing use of social media facilities like Facebook and Youtube to promote their offers and products, and in Australia there is minimal online gambling regulation.
About 11 percent of young people were found to gamble more after viewing promotions on social media.
However, the study also notes that for the vast majority of users, social media and games have "minimal reported impact on their gambling."
But a minority of those who already have a gambling problem could be impacted by social casino games and promotions, exacerbating their difficulties, the study cautions.
Social casino games are expected to bring in US$4.4 billion in revenue globally this year, with Australia and the United States having the highest spenders per capita. About 54 percent of users now play on their smartphones – a demographic that continues to grow.
Commenting on the study, Gainsbury said online betting has had a dramatic impact on the industry as people switch from casinos to betting via laptops and phones.
In Australia online and mobile sports betting is legal, but following legalization in 2001 (before the advent of social networking via the internet) online casino gambling is not. That has not stopped Australian punters using offshore websites to play, however.
Noting this, Gainsbury said that although the situation presents regulatory problems, there was still a need for more "counter messaging" to be carried out, educating young players that proficiency in social games does not mean they will be successful in real money online gambling.
In the past, Australian politicians have mulled controversial and censorship-based tactics to combat offshore internet gambling operators, including ISP-blocking, blacklists and financial restrictions. None have come to effective fruition.