Australia has made provision for the ACMA to focus its time and finances on studying the impact on social casinos. So, what are its plans, exactly?
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) which is Australia’s primary media regulating agency recently released its research program for the year 2022-2023. There are several projects on the list and one of the more interesting projects is carrying out detailed research on social casinos and their effects on players. Social casinos are popular free-to-play mobile games which allow players to purchase virtual tokens to play. Since social casino games do not involve real money wagers directly, playing them is not considered to be gambling. However, the concern surrounding these games comes from the fact that they can act as gateways to real gambling. Considering the real-life implications of social casinos, an amendment has been introduced in Australia’s 2001 Interactive Gambling Act in 2020 by Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie. This amendment sought to ban social casinos and the result of the research conducted by the ACMA will decide whether the regular authority will support the ban or not. One of the most enticing things about social casinos is the fact that they are usually free-to-play mobile apps, and are not considered as gambling since players are not obliged to wager their real money. This will present a different gaming experience even to customers who love playing with the ever-so-popular no deposit bonuses, since even with such games, at some point an initial deposit needs to be made.
ACMA Research Programs
The research programs conducted by the ACMA are centered around the development of social and economic benefits of content and communication services in Australia. Every year the regulatory body investigates issues and popular developments. This can help them figure out what effect these issues have on consumers and media and in turn how the organization can adapt to these developments. There were two gambling-related projects released in February 2022. The projects focused on affiliate services and the role they play in the Australian iGaming industry and in “promoting illegal online gambling”. Following those projects, the ACMA decided to conduct research on social casinos and the recent developments in international regulatory approaches. The social casino research project is a part of seven projects that the organization has undertaken this year including popular topics such as the metaverse.
Social Casino Games and Gambling Addiction
Social casinos are mobile apps that are free to play and include popular games such as bingo, poker, and slots. While you get a few free chances to play these games, after a while you will need to purchase tokens using real money to play. As the games do not involve direct wagers and offer no rewards, they are not categorized as gambling platforms. Sally Gainsbury, the director of Sydney University’s Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic said that even though players know that there is no monetary value they can win from these games, the virtual rewards also hold value for players which can make it hard to stop playing. Therefore, players get addicted to the feeling of winning and the dopamine rush that accompanies it. Also, these games are built to draw people in as they are made to look as similar to real casinos as possible. There are also features such as showing your virtual winning to other players on leaderboards and earning achievements which draw players to these games. Social casinos are not as regulated as real casinos and the fact that they are generating billions in reviews globally every year proves that they can be just as addictive as real casinos.
ACMA And Its Responsibilities
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is responsible for regulating media services and communications in Australia. The organization covers the entire content, media, and communications infrastructure from small issues such as dealing with spam to big tasks such as issuing telecommunications licenses. The organization is divided into 4 different sections which deal with different activities including communications infrastructure, content and consumer, legal services, and corporate and research. Some of the basic tasks of the organization are to take care of complaints, issue licenses, set communication rules, and manage services such as TV, radio, phones, and the internet.