An Examination of the Relationship Between Social Casino Gaming and Gambling: The Bad, The Ugly, and The Good (open access)

Michael J.A. Wohl, Melissa M. Salmon, Samantha J. Hollingshead, Hyoun S. Kim.

Social casino games (i.e., free-to-play online gambling-themed games) are now ubiquitous on social network platforms such as Facebook. Their popularity and similarity to gambling games has raised concern that, among other things, social casino games will normalize gambling behaviour, which may contribute to gambling participation and to a rise in the rate of disordered gambling. Herein, we review theory and research that address potentially bad (migration to gambling) and ugly (increased rate of problem gambling) consequences of social casino gaming. We also outline the limits and boundaries of this presupposition. Specifically, we outline contexts in which social casino games may yield positive consequences when played, including the use of such games as a proxy for gambling among disordered gamblers. Drawing on these discussions, we offer a path model for gambling behaviour that places social casino gaming at its core. Although we, like others, present some pessimism regarding the outcome of social casino game play, this paper points to situations and motivations that may yield positive effects.

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