Significant numbers of online gambling companies have announced during the past weeks that they intend to expand into the social gaming market. The UK Gambling Commission has announced that it will carefully watch the market’s development in order to step in if real money online gambling and social gaming will converge in the future.
Social gaming, such as gambling with purchased virtual chips on Facebook and other social media platforms is becoming increasingly popular. Many real money online gambling providers such as Playtech have announced that they intend to explore the possibilities in this market in order for a possible expansion. The UK Gambling Commission commented recently that it’s somewhat concerned about the rise of social gaming and online gambling companies’ interest in this market. Commissioner John Travers explained that boundaries between social gaming and real money online gambling are becoming blurred which means that the Commission will have to step in at some point.
The issue with social gaming is that players aren’t using real money in order to play. Instead, they purchase a certain number of virtual chips that will be added to their account. By legal definition this is not real money online gambling and therefore falls outside the jurisdiction of the UK Gambling Commission. Still, if one evaluates the technical and practical part of social gaming then it will become evident that it is actually real money online gambling, but with a clever twist that allows operators to avoid current legislation. Commission representative John Travers argues that social gaming will eventually have to be regulated the same way as ordinary real money online gambling.
One of the main reasons why regulation is necessary is because there are already reports of shady operators that have defrauded players of their money through social gaming, but have managed to avoid any consequences due to the fact that this market isn’t regulated yet. Another concern is the access of minors to these games due to the fact that they are promoted on platforms such as Facebook. What’s for sure at the moment is that social gaming is on the rise. On the other hand, it can’t be predicted for sure is social gaming will indeed fully develop into an actual real money online gambling model. Still, many major companies such as bwin.party and Playtech have announced that they will invest large sums in accessing this new market.
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