Thursday August 15,2013 :  AUSSIES TO STUDY SOCIAL GAMING IMPLICATIONS
 
High profile problem gambling specialist heads project team
 
Dr. Sally Gainsbury, a high profile problem gambling researcher at the Centre for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University in Australia, is heading a research team exploring the implications of social network gambling and its convergence with real-money gambling.
 
Gainsbury claims there has been little research on the burgeoning field and its impact on society, particularly in the problem gambling context.
 
Two other studies are believed to be underway, one at the Canada-based Ontario Problem Gambling Research unit, and another in the Victoria province of Australia, being undertaken by the state government.
 
She said SCU study would include the replication of social casino games and would seek to identify whether there has been a transition between social casino action and actual gambling.
 
Almost half the Australian population uses social media on a daily basis, Gainsbury claims, asserting that this access exposes a range of different age groups and vulnerable individuals to real-money gambling advertising and promos on social networks, thus increasing the danger of problem gambling.
 
Technological developments and their contribution to accessibility will also be studied; Australia has exceptionally high smartphone ownership levels and access to mobile as well as internet channels in a fast and efficient communications infrastructure.
 
Gambling Research Australia is sponsoring the research project, which will include input from universities in Canada and Adelaide, Australia, with a grant of over A$456,000.
 
A wide cross-section of involved and interested parties will be interviewed in 2014, along with relevant website audits and online surveys.
 
Australian anti-gambling politicians have been especially vociferous in condemning the convergence between gambling and social networking, warning that it presents real dangers of compulsive gambling to younger players.
 
In part they were responsible for persuading Apple to remove real-money apps developed by leading gambling companies from the Australian iStore, claiming possible infringement of the Australian Interactive Gaming Act.
 
There are also political moves afoot to introduce amendments to the Act which would define social casino games as illegal gambling services.