Is Facebook turning children into gamblers?
‘Excellent game. Very addictive 5 stars...’ is the view of one apparently avid gamer in the Appstore, ‘Very addicting, I didn’t want to stop’ wrote another on Amazon. These sentiments relate to a slots game, one of a number of apps, which have turned the common casino style slot machine into a free to play phenomenon.
'No Slots for tots' - Social casino games get children addicted on gambling'
Slots are in the company of lots of other casino style games too, which are now commonplace on Facebook and the Appstore. The big difference between these games and their hardcore gambling sisters is that those who try their luck do not stand to win any money, players play for free and wager nothing.
Don’t be fooled however, this is big business.. You just have to a look a little closer to find the money. These casino style games, have taken an approach that has been proven immensely successful by the popular strategy game, Candy Crush. Players can have their fun for free, but if they want to extend their game play, they need to buy credits.
'£1.9 BN was made from social casino games in 2014'
For one very popular slot themed game on the Appstore, credits start at £2.99 for 6,000 coins, not too pricey, but the numbers soon stack up. Last year (2014) around £1.9 BN (Goodman – The Sunday Times) was taken from these sorts of games.
So why worry? The fear of these games comes from the fact that whilst they are pretty much the same as what we see in arcades from Whitby to Vegas, the differentiating point is that players cannot win money and do not wager any funds. This fact means it would technically be incorrect to refer to these games as gambling. Furthermore, they effectively sidestep all forms of regulation in the UK and can therefore be accessed by anyone, of any age.
'These Games fall outside of gambling regulation in the UK'
This has certain people worried and has inspired slogans such as, ‘No Slots for Tots’. Kids can and do access these games and some see them as being the relative e-cig before the cigarette. Some wonder if after acquiring a taste for the nectar the kids will be drawn to gambling and spending money on the real deal.
Tom Waite, manager of the Rocket Bingo website, said the following, ‘We dislike the idea of anything that encourages children to develop a taste or even an interest in gambling. The authorities need to take a closer look at these games. Sites like Rocket (bingo) work tirelessly to ensure gambling is not accessible to those under 18 and are required to do so by the UK gambling commission, responsibilities stretch way beyond that point too’.
The International Social games Association responds to concerns saying ‘a tiny proportion’ (Goodman-The Sunday Times, 2014) of under-18’s the social casino games. It is said that users aged 11-18 accounts for only 0.15% of players who pay to play.
As time goes on, with companies such as Bwin party announcing a ‘$50m investment’ in social gaming (Bloomberg News – 2014), the presence of these games will surely explode.
What is your opinion on this matter, are you happy about your children playing these games, post below or discuss on social media #slotsfortots