Free online games ‘lead to gambling’, report says

Free online games ‘lead to gambling’, report says

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 Totally Gaming
Counter Strike: Global Offensive is a game that offers players the opportunity to gamble, according to the research paper

The popularity of free online games and the proliferation of smartphones are leading to an increase in problem gambling, according to new research published in Australia.

A report by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) - part of the Federal Government's Australian Institute of Family Studies — said more people saw gambling as a part of everyday life and are being exposed to gambling at younger ages than ever before.

The ‘Is It Gambling Or A Game?’ paper said simulated gambling is accessed increasingly through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, with players “heavily exposed” to commercial gambling site advertising on these sites.

"Young people today are growing up around these electronic games," said Anna Thomas, one of the authors of the report. "This is introducing gambling to them at a much younger age than you'd normally expect."

The report is a compilation of online gambling related research over the last 15 years, and suggests that the proliferation of gambling games raises a number of red flags. 

According to the report, because the online games are so realistic, “the lines between simulated gambling and real life ‘commercial’ gambling are increasingly blurred”. In simulated games, players are protected from the consequences of losing — they can just play again if their luck turns - which creates unrealistic expectations of gambling in real life, according to the report.

Thomas also said most parents are not aware of the gambling features embedded in many games, with the popular Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) one title that offers players the opportunity to buy in to contests in which they can win prizes.

"It can be a game that overtly has nothing to do with gambling," she said. "You may have no idea that (your kids) are actually going into a room … and having that experience in another game that's really something completely different to gambling."

TotallyGaming.com says: “This report adds to the canon of reports which suggest free gambling games are encouraging people to become regular gamblers, rather than, as their opponents would counter, an opportunity for people to have fun while not lose money. It should be noted that the game mentioned by Thomas , CS:GO, has a PEGI of 18, so should not actually be played by minors.” 

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