The gambling industry has completely embraced online gaming to the extent that is difficult to find a major gambling company without an online division and up-to several online casinos in their corporate profile.
For example, Canada’s Kahnawake Gaming Commission hosts both land-based casinos and a multitude of online casinos. Online casino reviews assist Kahnawake to market their product to tech-savvy clients who until the technological revolution, may never have become involved in the gambling industry.
Online gambling, be it real-money or social, has proven to be a valuable asset for online gambling companies. Online gambling is a complementary product that creates a new revenue stream for a casino. It can also be used as a marketing tool to attract new players to their existing land-based properties.
Social gambling was initially seen as a proxy of some sort, a way to create a digital footprint while land-based casinos waited for real-money online gambling legislation to be passed in some specific key markets (like the United States).
However, what they soon unearthed, was that far from being a mere proxy, social gaming turned out to be a windfall for operators and online players alike, a versatile product that can be adapted across a number of different platforms in countless ways.
What is Social Gambling exactly?
Simply put, Social gambling is gaming on social media. In recent years, many gambling operators have launched social media games on Facebook and MySpace amongst other sites with the aim of reaching more, and new types of online players.
Online poker games on Facebook have been operating in some certain markets with the required legislation since as early as 2014. All social gambling apps will usually offer players the chance to play for free.
With Facebook being THE most popular social media platform in a crowded marketplace, it certainly comes as no shock that the social gambling scene is abuzz on Facebook. More than 65% of all players who gamble on social media, do so on Facebook. Gambling on Facebook for real money, however, is only allowed in specific countries with the correct legislation, authorisation and governmental oversights.
As yet, few countries meet these criteria. Consequently, free games and apps are likely to stay exactly where and how they are and will continue to further dominate the social gambling scene until the legislation catches up to them.
Its usually the classic online casino games on social media (and all available to play for free) including Blackjack, online slots, and Texas Hold’em Poker (current Zynga’s Texas Hold’em Poker is the most popular social game on Facebook).
Where lines between Social & Online Gambling Blur
The bulk of the revenue generated at social casinos comes via the purchase of virtual chips. (Whilst small fry compared to the revenue of online casinos, social gaming is expected to reach CAD $8.5 billion in annual revenue worldwide by the end of 2018).
The virtual chips themselves have no intrinsic monetary value, however, social play can be tied into a land-based casino’s loyalty program, allowing a social player to earn loyalty points while playing at the casino’s social casino. Gamblers, it is shown, will spend money on ‘virtual chips’ if they are getting credit against the land-based loyalty program.
A social casino will usually provide a fresh supply of chips for players every day. However, some players become impatient and the user can, if they so choose, purchase additional items (in this case, casino chips) for a small fee. An online player simply supplies credit card details and spends a few dollars and receives enough chips to keep them playing for a few months. For the players that turn their ‘free play’ into monetised play’, it’s a relatively small price if they are enjoying their chosen game.
This same monetising system is frequently used with non-casino social media games where players can purchase lives, weapons, skills, or even skip levels. Social gambling is depicted differently from actual gambling since a lot of players think of the experience as ‘casual’. The money spent is smaller and frequently used in a more playful manner to attract game users. The leisurely manner of the interactions appeals to most users.
The Shared Future
If online gambling operators make a move onto social media, it will provide a huge challenge for companies who have been providing free games there. It appears like it will be shared space moving forward, but smaller ‘free game’ companies will have a much tougher time. The protagonists are now jockeying for positions. Watch this space.