The International Social Games Association (ISGA) has issued a report on young people’s use of social casino games. The ISGA commissioned the report to determine whether there was any evidence to support the ‘moral panic’ that has arisen as a result of the exploding popularity of social and mobile games, particularly those based on casino game activity, which ISGA dubs ‘Digsino’ games.
Research was conducted by a Harvest Strategy team led by the University of Sydney’s Dr. Rohan Miller. Titled A Snapshot of Youth in the Digital Playground (read it here), the report concludes that the popular allegation that Digsino games ‘groom’ youth to participate in real-money gambling when they reach legal age is “out of touch with commercial and consumer reality.”
Five unidentified ISGA members provided a one-month sample of over 12m Digsino players in Australia, the UK, US and the European Union. Of these 12m players, just 90,150 (0.74%) were found to be under the age of 18. Of these under-18 players, just 505 (0.56%) opted to spend any real money purchasing virtual credits, compared to 2.7% of paying adult players. This supports demographics provided by IGT’s popular DoubleDown Casino that showed the bulk of its players are over 50 years old.
The under-18 payers spent an average of $3.96 per day, significantly lower than the $6.16 spent by paying players over 18. All told, under-18 players made up just 0.15% of all paying players and just 0.07% of all game expenditure. The data sample provided just two instances in which under-18 players engaged in “unusually high levels of expenditure.” Absent the impact of these two rapscallions, the average spend per day by under-18 paying players falls to $2.95.
Harvest also failed to find a single market in which the popularity of Digsino games had been accompanied by a similar rise in problem gambling prevalence. Digsino game play was found to be done in briefer spurts than real-money gambling, which the report said didn’t fit patterns of addictive gambling behavior.
The report also suggests that existing metrics for determining behavioral addiction are “sub-optimal” for examining the use of Digsino games, as the increased use of new technologies “is not necessarily pathological as it does not have the negative consequences critical in defining excessive behaviors.” Since they neither require players to spend real money to play nor allow players to win real money, Digsino games don’t lead players to ‘chase losses’. The report concludes that there is “no meaningful relationship between Digsinos and any form of commercial gambling (including free play on commercial gambling sites.”