Morgan Young | 18 Dec 2017
Social gambling is quite a new phenomenon, and is literally defined as gambling on social network platforms. There are social casinos that exist in their own right, social casinos that are on existing platforms such as Facebook and even real-money casinos that are branching into having social gambling departments.
Social casinos tend to function very well on all major handsets, including all makes and models of Android smartphones and tablets. If you enjoy playing for real money on one of these devices and you’re interested in adding some social gambling to the mix, you are in luck.
Social gambling is, first and foremost, completely free. Zynga, one of the most prominent social gambling software developers today, actually tried to create a real-money social Poker app on Facebook but has since removed it due to lack of interest. If players want to play Poker for money, it seems, they will go to sites that are dedicated to that. For social aspects, they prefer social media platforms or dedicated social gambling sites.
The possibilities for connecting with other players is among the biggest draw cards for those interested in social gambling, and though the games have so far been largely limited to slots and Poker, there is a serious possibility of different games being available in the future. Blackjack, for example, can now be played on Facebook’s social casino options. Being able to play for free also gives you a chance to practice and refine your strategies before you put down any real money on a game, making social gambling a great supplement to real-money gambling activities. You even get to brag and share your achievements to your social platform of choice after you win.
The fact that the games are free can have something of a downside too; many games are created by independent or fledgling developers so the quality is not as good as what you’d see from Microgaming, NetEnt or other industry heavyweights. In addition, because you can’t bet with real money you also cannot win real money. This distinction is very important, and is actually what allows social gambling to exist on a platform like Facebook at all.
With no money being exchanged, there are far fewer regulations that need to be put in place and some authorities such as the United Kingdom Gambling Commission have ruled that legally, social gambling is not gambling at all. So, while not being able to win money might be off-putting to some, we refer you to our earlier point that those who wish to engage in real-money gambling have plenty of other sites to choose from – and they frequently do.
We’d love to tell you that social gambling is all about the elements of fun and connection, and nothing more, but that is never the case with anything in life and it is not what’s happening here either. If all gameplay on social casinos is free, however, then how do they make their money? The answer, in a word, is add-ons.
Add-ons are in-game purchases that offer players benefits in some way. These could be currencies, virtual goods or other advantages. They are not unique to social gambling by any means; these days add-ons are seen in almost every video game that is released. There has been a lot of controversy over this too, since the add-ons need to be bought and can, over time, end up costing the player of a free-to-play game far more than they would have spent on a full-priced video game. Crucially, however, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission ruled that add-ons did not make video games a form of gambling because, again, gamers were not getting any real money payouts.
One of the biggest types of add-ons at the moment is the Loot Box, which contains different random items that are revealed when the Loot Box is bought and opened. The boxes are bright and engaging, and opening them is quite a breathlessly exciting experience. A lot of people have said that this is very much like gambling in something like a slots game, where you play and then wait to see what you’ve won with no skill involved.
Authorities in the United Kingdom might have ruled that Loot Boxes don’t constitute gambling but others, such as in Belgium, have ruled that it is. The concern here is that Loot Boxes could foster a gambling mentality in minors, which could escalate into major problems or even addiction later.
For now, though, we still don’t know what the long-term effects of Loot Boxes and other so-called microtransactions in video games are. What we do know is that social gambling is hugely enjoyable, and in-game transactions here do not seem to be doing any harm!