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Australian Study into Social Casinos

Australia is, the truism goes, a nation of gamblers. We love a bet, and there’s plenty of opportunity for a wager or two, from the State of Origin, through the Melbourne Cup (the ‘race that stops a nation’) to our love affair with the pokie machine – a love affair that has taken us from the pubs and social clubs to some of the finest casino resorts in the world, like Crown Melbourne and Sydney’s The Star.

And lots of our favourite Casino Games are essentially social: a big part of the attraction of a casino experience is the chance to be social with other gamers, and the online casinos have been working hard to develop new technologies and innovative formats to make our online gaming more social – from the arrival at our favourite online casinos of the excellent live streaming option, to Poker Rooms with their avatars and chat features, and Online Pokies tournaments, multi-player pokies and more. So it’s no surprise, really, to find a cross-over between gambling online and socialising online.

But it’s not a well-understood area, and as with any new gambling format, there are dangers, and there is controversy. Nobody wants to see a situation develop without the right regulation in place to protect vulnerable gamblers from problem situations, but this is potentially an exciting new avenue for the industry, too – and so a balance needs to be struck.

More information will obviously help inform the debate, and the Southern Cross study aims to provide exactly that. With nearly half of all Australians, according to recent surveys, accessing social media daily, and the availability and power of mobile devices increasing as quickly as their popularity with all age groups, the researchers at Southern Cross have their work cut out.

However, with a grant of close to half a million Australian dollars to play with, they’ve put together a plan that will involve interviews with volunteers who are regular social media users, regular online casino users, and both. There will also be extensive online surveys conducted throughout next year.

We’re certainly looking forward to seeing the results. In the meantime, the topic will only hot up, we suspect, after Apple bowed to pressure to remove mobile casino apps from its Australian store, and Nick Xenophon adopted a typically hard stance on Social Casinos. Watch this space for more news and opinion as we get it...

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