Lawmakers to Consider Ban on Social Casino Games
If you are a fan of social casino games, then you will need to pay careful attention to a new bill in parliament. A few months ago, we reported that there were calls for the banning of social casino games. Now, a Tasmanian parliament member has moved forward with a bill to ban those games.
Under the bill, all social casino games will be subject to banning and companies subject to fines of up to $1.1 million per day. Presently, social casino games are available to players as they don’t offer real money prizes.
Wilkie Introduces Bill to Ban Social Casinos
Online casino gambling is presently banned under Australian law. Companies are prohibited from operating online casinos, limiting the ability of live casinos in the region to maximize their profits. One alternative to online gambling is social casinos. Social casinos allow players to participate in casino gaming but using play chips. Players have the option to purchase additional chips to continue playing or to play at higher stakes.
That may all change in the future. Tasmanian Independent Parliament member Andrew Wilkie has introduced a bill whose purpose is to ban all forms of social casino games. On June 10, he introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Banning Social Casinos and Other Measures) Bill 2020. The bill looks to amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
Under the bill, social casino games will receive a reclassification as gambling rather than entertainment. Presently, social casino games such as pokies or blackjack are available as they don’t award a real-world prize. However, there are many reports of players going overboard with purchasing play chips. Some are losing hundreds, and even thousands of dollars. This has some calling the games a dressed-up form of gambling, with some calling the games worse as players never have a way to cash out.
Wilkie Claims Social Gaming Normalizes Gambling
Wilkie has come out as a strong opponent to online gambling and social gambling. During the bill’s reading this week, he explained, “social casino games can also pave the way for problematic gambling, because they normalise gambling behaviours, increase the player’s confidence in winning and make gambling seem more socially acceptable and risk-free.”
Wilkie continued by stating that Aussies are the world’s biggest losers per capita, losing approximately $1,200 per person per year. He said that over 400 suicides per year come via gambling addiction. He claims that social casino gambling is harmful to minors, stating, “gambling-like games on social media effectively prepare children for gambling with real money later in life, because they familiarise underage users with how to play casino games.”
“When they turn 18 and can enter a real casino, or when they have access to finances to fund more online gambling, they will be more susceptible to real gambling and psychological addiction, because they’ve been primed or groomed for it.”
Stiff Penalties Guarantee a Pullout of Social Gaming Companies
Should this bill pass, we will see a pullout of social gaming companies similar to what we saw from online casinos and online poker rooms in recent years. If passed, violators will be subject to fines of up to $220,000 each day for individuals. Fines for companies will be up to $1.1 million each day.
Casinos will lose a marketing tool should this bill pass. Many live casinos use social casino games to advertise their casino and even get players to travel out to the casino. They often reward prizes like hotel room stays, free play at the casino, or other prizes to entice new players.
It is unknown if this bill will target only games that are exclusively casino gaming or also games that have casino-like elements. There are many games that use spinning wheels or other gambling-like devices to award special prizes. Will these be part of the ban?
For now, we have to sit back and wait to see whether this bill moves forward. If it does, it could spell the end of social gaming in Australia.
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