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Gamblers, social media users and gamers sought for new study


Sharlene King
11 June 2014
With new technologies and social media platforms changing how Australians interact with each other and engage in recreational activities, participants are being recruited for a new study to understand how social media is blurring the lines between gaming and gambling.

The $456,387 commissioned study from Gambling Research Australia is being led by Dr Sally Gainsbury and Professor Nerilee Hing, from Southern Cross University’s Centre for Gambling Education and Research (CGER). It also involves researchers Dr Daniel King and Associate Professor Paul Delfabbro, from the University of Adelaide; Adjunct Professor Alex Blaszczynski from the CGER; and Professor Jeffrey Derevensky, a Canadian adolescent and young adult psychologist.

“Social media and social casino games are easily accessible. Both have the potential to promote and normalise gambling activities, including to children and adolescents, who could then access illegal offshore gambling sites,” said Dr Gainsbury.

“Many gambling operators are also active on social media. Gambling is a popular entertainment activity. But some people lose control and some people are more vulnerable to spending beyond their means.

“With this survey we are aiming to understand whether new technologies have an impact on gambling and problem gambling among Australians.”

The research aims to investigate the relationship between social media, social gaming and gambling in Australia. The study will identify and describe how Australians are using new technologies in relation to gambling, if there has been a shift between modes and forms of gambling and gaming, and the future direction of gambling in relation to social media and games.

Dr Gainsbury said Australia was one of the most internet-connected countries in the world, with Australians spending an average of two hours each day on social media, using desktop and laptop computers, as well as mobile phones and tablets.

“More than 13 million Australians – that’s more than half the population - use Facebook. Many gambling operators are now using social media platforms to advertise to and interact with consumers.

“Our research on gamblers shows that there is some overlap between these markets. In a recent large Australian study, the CGER found approximately 13 per cent of gamblers also played social casino games and these people were more likely to be younger and gamble on the Internet.”

Social casino games are online games accessed through social media platforms that replicate gambling activities such as slot machines (pokies), blackjack, roulette, poker, and bingo.

“There are 173 million monthly social casino game players worldwide, growing at 24 per cent per year. These games are free to play with no age restrictions, but do allow users to spend real money. They are not classified as gambling activities or regulated as such,” Dr Gainsbury said.

The multi-mode study includes audits of social media platforms and social casino games.

The online survey will investigate the cross over between social media, social games and gambling. The CGER needs to recruit as many Australians as possible who use social media, play social casino games and gamble to make the survey representative.

The survey includes a series of questions to assess Australian’s social media use, gambling behaviour, the impact of advertisements and connections with gambling operators on social media, the use of social casino games and their impact on gambling, the use of practice gambling games, as well as gambling problems.

The CGER is also looking for organisations that are willing to host recruitment notices and links to the survey on websites or send notices to customers to encourage participation in the survey. It is critical that a large sample is gathered to ensure the results are representative of Australians and provide accurate and reliable outcomes.

Individuals or organisations willing to participate in or support the research should contact Dr Sally Gainsbury via email [email protected]

The project has been approved by the Human Ethics Committee at Southern Cross University (Approval Number ECN-13-080).

Photo: Examples of advertisements for social casino games on Facebook.