An Australian study has found that young people exposed to playing casino-style social games and social media promotions for the games can pick up real money gambling as a habit.
And that has led to opponents of online gambling in the country to point to the study and call for more curbs on online sites accepting bets from Australian citizens and how they use social media to promote themselves.
Online sports betting is legal in Australia, but casino-style games are not. Several unlicensed offshore sites also accept bets from Australia.
The study—commissioned by the government-funded Gambling Research Australia—surveyed 2,100 people and included interviews with both gaming operators and gamblers. The study found that 28 percent of youth aged 12 to 17 who played casino- style games moved to spending more time and money on real gambling. A third of adolescent game players, and 15 percent of adults, believed playing would increase their chances when gambling.
“The Internet has changed the way that gambling is provided, and social media offers a highly accessible platform to promote products,” the study found. “Games can be problematic in their own right and regulators and game operators should consider further actions to protect vulnerable consumers.”
The study found gambling operators were increasingly using social media, particularly Facebook and YouTube, to market their products but the area is subject to little or no regulation in Australia. About 11 percent of young people were found to gamble more after viewing such promotions on social media.
“For the vast majority of people… social media and games have minimal reported impact on their gambling,” the study said. “However, for a minority of people with existing gambling problems, social media-based promotions and social casino games may act as a trigger for gambling and may increase gambling and exacerbate gambling problems.”
Gambling experts in Australia have urged the government to impose stricter controls on the growth of online promotions and games and to update existing legislation. Australia’s federal law dealing with online gambling was introduced in 2001, before the rise of social media.