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KAMAGAMES


back and forth engagement that ensues. However, that win doesn’t inherently translate into a sudden desire to gamble with real-world currency.


EVOLUTION


Just as any sector evolves so will social casino, with the industry branching out into new avenues such as sports betting in recent years. Yet, like with other social casino games, this latest venture has ‘no cash out’ feature, with absolutely no chance of winning real-world currency.


When we introduced the social sports betting feature into Pokerist earlier this year, we included a variety of sports including basketball, volleyball, tennis and of course soccer and we now host more than 200 sporting competitions, including the Champions League, the Fifa World Cup, and the Cricket World Cup. Instead of introducing a new type of virtual currency solely for this feature of the app, players are able to place wagers using in-game chips which raises the question of why would players opt for a social sports betting platform instead of ‘the real thing’? Sports betting in a social casino app appeals to players who want to be social but don’t necessarily want to risk losing their money. Players feel as though they have a stake in the game but they aren’t spending real  downgrade in mood should they lose. A measurement of investment in a game or sport is exciting, however, too much can quickly turn thrill to turmoil.


THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL CASINO The rest of the online video games industry has begun


to take notice of social casino’s appeal. In recent months, Rockstar has introduced social casino elements to two of its titles, Red Dead Online and Grand Theft Auto. Red Dead Online introduced blackjack and poker to the game while the new Diamond Casino in GTA saw a host of casino-style games, including slots, cards, horse racing, roulette, and craps, enter the online world.


These new additions display all the obvious flashing lights, mechanics, suspense and thrill of gambling. The Diamond Casino even embraces the traditional look and feel of a casino. Yet, still, they’re not. While these additions are certainly a boost for social casino, the industry has always made a strong point to distance itself from any form of gambling and the online games industry has been under scrutiny in recent years because of its potential links to gambling-like mechanics, most notably through the employment of loot boxes.


Both The Netherlands and Belgium made headlines in 2018 for their belief that loot boxes constitute gambling. Most recently, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee in the UK recommended that Parliament regulate loot boxes as gambling. The department released a full report focusing on the ‘immersive and addictive


technologies’ with a special emphasis on online gaming and loot box mechanics. The report outlined its recommendation that the Government bring forward regulations under Section 6 of the Gambling Act 2005 in the next parliamentary session to specify that loot boxes are a game of chance – and therefore should be classed as gambling.


FAIR PLAY


Similarly, some argue that because there is a possibility to spend real-world currency in social casino through microtransactions, then it still poses a risk. Yet, in order to be considered gambling, any activity must be comprised of three components. Prize, chance and consideration. Not only do players know exactly what they are buying in social casino but there is no prize. Our virtual chips cannot be cashed out for real-money currency or anything of value, nor can they be traded on our platform or any other. It’s important to highlight that poker cannot be won with just a pinch of luck. it requires intense concentration and a significant level of skill in order to be successful. Players who invest spend in social casino apps are paying for an entertainment service and unlike those that play for real money, social casino players are paying for the enjoyment and skill of the games themselves.


In conclusion, studies around both the social casino industry and the gambling industry separately are  between the two. So far, those who cite a connection between them are only speculating. There have been a number of experiments to cross-promote players from social to real money casinos which have largely proven unsuccessful with disappointing conversion rates. From the evidence, it’s clear that there are multiple, core differences between real-money gambling and social casino games. This lies in everything from the gaming mechanics employed by social casino operators to the very motivations of players for engaging with social casino games on a regular basis. The total lack of risk involved also separates the social casino market from their real-money casino counterparts and  This is important as social casino is beginning to occupy a more prominent space in gaming than ever before thanks to its recently launched presence in high-profile games like GTA and Red Dead Online. Most notably social casinos, which include Pokerist along with these new launches, are safeguarding against gambling for impressionable players through their lack of cash-out option, absence of risk or the unknown involved in microtransactions. It’s these exact reasons why the industry should be distanced from any discussion around encouraging any type of gambling mentality or comparison to mechanics like loot boxes.


For social casino, these crucial details are the difference between gaming and gambling.


Players have entirely different reasons for engaging with social casino than those looking for a real-money gamble


GIO OCTOBER 2019 99


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