From the mouths of social media users: A focus group study exploring the social casino gaming–online gambling link (Open Access)

Background and aims: The potential link between social casino gaming and online gambling has raised considerable concerns among clinicians, researchers and policy makers. Unfortunately, however, there is a paucity of research examining this potential link, especially among young adults. This represents a significant gap given young adults are frequently exposed to and are players of social casino games.

Methods: To better understand the potential link between social casino games and online gambling, we conducted three focus groups (N  = 30) at two large Canadian Universities with college students who were avid social media users (who are regularly exposed to social casino games).

Results: Many participants spontaneously mentioned that social casino games were a great opportunity to build gambling skills before playing for real money. Importantly, some participants expressed a belief that there is a direct progression from social casino gaming to online gambling. Conversely, others believed the transition to online gambling depended on a person’s personality, rather than mere exposure to social casino games. While many young adults in our focus groups felt immune to the effects of social casino games, there was a general consensus that social casino games may facilitate the transition to online gambling among younger teenagers (i.e., 12–14 yr olds), due to the ease of accessibility and early exposure.

Discussion: The results of the present research point to the need for more study on the effects of social casino gambling as well as a discussion concerning regulation of social casino games in order to minimize their potential risks.

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