Edition #3: Special research bulletin

Teenage boy sitting wearing headset and facing screen engaged in online gaming
Teenage boy sitting wearing headset and facing screen engaged in online gaming
Photo: iStock

New evidence

Convergence of gambling and gaming in digital media

This intelligence-gathering project explored the convergence between gambling and gaming and its implications for young people.

The study looked at the extent to which young people are exposed to gambling-themed content in games, and how this influences their gambling behaviour. It also considered how gambling-themed games are promoted to young people and what impact this might have on them.

The project team reviewed academic literature on gambling and gaming and developed a typology of how the two overlap. The team also analysed screen shots of advertising for gambling and gambling-themed games directed at young people via social media over a one-week period. 

This foundation-commissioned project was led by Doctor Sally Gainsbury of Southern Cross University.

Key findings

  • Gambling and gaming are converging. Gambling products are increasingly incorporating gaming themes and elements, such as elements of skill. Video games like social casino games imitate gambling, and gambling is permitted on gaming results, such as with eSports.
  • Playing social casino games is not uncommon among young people, with up to 23 per cent of adolescents reporting playing them in the past 12 months.
  • While for some young people, playing social casino games may increase their gambling, through normalisation or inflated confidence of winning, for others the games act as a substitute, reducing their interest in actual gambling.
  • Advertising collected during the project glamorised and normalised gambling and encouraged play. Some advertising suggested it was possible to learn how to gamble using social casino games. Some also promoted their product as compulsive or addictive.

How this project might be useful

The report makes a number of recommendations for action by key agencies including the foundation, government, social networking sites and industry, with the aim of minimising gambling harm among young people.

These recommendations include:

  • promoting industry standards and self-regulation, given there are difficulties with enforcing mandatory rules on international providers
  • applying policies and restrictions to social casino games similar to those applied to online gambling
  • prohibiting links to advertisements for gambling products on social casino games.

The report also recommends educating the community about the issue, particularly parents, young people and teachers. This is a key focus of the foundation's education program for schools and the report will be a useful resource for this work.

Download the report 

Convergence of gambling and gaming in digital media (PDF - 6152.6 KB)

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