Daily Mail turns the spotlight on social gaming
Gambling charity GamCare has called on the UK's Gambling Commission to investigate social gaming, according to an article in the national Daily Mail newspaper. The report alleges that social media network Facebook is creating what it describes as ‘a generation of gambling addicts’ because of the site's Las Vegas style games'. Claiming that children are using ‘virtual coins’ to simulate the thrill of hitting the jackpot with slot machine and roulette games, the Mail highlights the role of well known companies including Jackpotjoy, Slotomania, DoubleDownCasino and Zynga which recently launched Zynga Slots in the UK.
GamCare policy and development director Mandy Barrie is quoted in the newspaper as saying: ‘This is a really rapidly-moving area. We need to think through very carefully any risks that it presents particularly for young people.
‘There is a link between early exposure to gambling and developing a problem in adulthood.’
The Mail claims that Facebook has an estimated million users who are under 13, the minimum age limit for use, and who can access the games.
A statement from the Gambling Commission quoted in the article said the regulatory body is ‘monitoring developments’ with regard to virtual gaming, which it believes to be ‘at the perimeter of current legislation’.
A Facebook spokesman was quoted as saying: ‘In addition to complying with local law, all applications on Facebook are required to operate within the bounds of our developer guidelines.’
The Daily Mail has for some time been the 'bête noire' of the gambling industry in the UK, so it should come as no surprise that it has now turned its attention to social gaming.
What should also come as no surprise is the absence of any evidence to back-up its assertions. The article quotes Dr Carolyn Downs, an academic at the University of Salford, whose interest in the issue arose when her 13-year old daughter and we quote ‘became upset at losing virtual money on the game Fluff Friends.'
Despite the flimsy nature of the editorial which in essence is built around a single anecdote, the industry will ignore the Daily Mail at its peril: a daily circulation of two million and an estimated readership of four million does little justice to its influence in the corridors of power in British politics. It’s ability to create a folk devil and effectively spook faint of heart politicians is unsurpassed in UK media space. The relationship between social gaming and gambling will be debated at length at October’s EiG in Barcelona alongside many other topics. Let’s hope the regulators and legislators will listen to reasoned arguments backed by evidence.