Australia to Launch Inquiry into Potential Legalization Of Social Casinos
- Australian lawmakers will examine whether social casinos should be regulated as gambling
- There are concerns social casino games are leading Aussies to gambling addiction
- Social casinos allow players to buy coins using real money but do not permit them to withdraw their winnings
Australian MPs will examine laws concerning the operations of social casinos amid claims virtual games can be as damaging to gamblers as traditional pokies (slots). Social casinos are not considered a form of gambling in Australia.
Hence, they are not regulated. But they work almost the same way as electronic gambling machines at land-based casinos, only that players cannot cash out their winnings.
Social Casinos Can Cause Harm Just Like Gambling
While social casino games are free to play, players have the option to use real money to buy virtual coins to upgrade their gaming experience. But they are not allowed to withdraw their winnings. They are instead awarded as free coins with bonuses and multipliers that enable players to improve their ranks or status tiers. Winnings can never be converted to cash.
Social casinos have become the subject of public discussions in Australia recently, with some raising concerns that they can lead players to other forms of gambling. Players may also get addicted to social casino games which could result in huge financial losses. This will be the main focus of a parliamentary inquiry that will examine whether social casinos should be regulated as gambling in Australia to protect players from harm.
Labor MP Peta Murphy, chair of the parliamentary committee, said they’re looking to get evidence and consider developments in other countries where social casinos are considered a form of gambling. Belgium, for example, banned the popular “loot box” feature in video games, with the law in effect since 2018.
Time to Review Australia’s Gambling Laws
According to Lauren Levin, director of policy and campaigns at Financial Counselling Australia, there’s mounting evidence that social casino games have the potential to lead players to addiction and cause them to lose huge amounts of money.
Levin calls for a “total review” of Australian gambling laws to align them with current developments in the world of gambling.
Online gambling in Australia is banned, however, social casinos and video games that simulate gambling but do not offer play-for-money services are exempted from regulation.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said it’s continuing to monitor developments regarding social casinos and regulations currently implemented in other jurisdictions.