by Renee Israel
In a move that many suspected would eventually come, the UK
Gambling Commission has started to investigate the social gaming scene,
prompting discomfort amongst many online gaming operators.
The Commission said that it was becoming more and more concerned
with the blurring of lines between traditional casino games played at online
gambling sites, and social games played on popular social networking sites like
The games are for the most part free to play, which is why they
have not caught the attention of regulators in the United Kingdom and the United
States - until now. However, those who immerse themselves in the games are able
to spend money buying extra points or chips.
The Corporate Affairs Manager for the UK Gambling Commission, John
Travers said about the new policy: "The key question is, is it gambling or not?
We are monitoring developments and assessing any wider implications for
Should Social Gambling Games be Regulated?
An analyst with Numis Securities, Ivor Jones, spoke about the
question regarding the need to regulate social gambling games.
"If regulators conclude that such games with gambling
characteristics should be regulated, it will be difficult for them to continue
to be offered to many players, which would financially hurt the games operators
and Facebook," he speculated.
However, while the business implications are clearly understood,
many are calling for these games to be regulated as they are so easily available
to children as young as 13 who have an account on Facebook. Because the games
are for free, some parents don't consider that there could be anything wrong or
addictive about them.
Bwin.Party Gambling on Social Gaming
But even if the Gambling Commission is to examine the social gaming
industry and feels the need to regulate it, not everyone is concerned.
Bwin.Party Digital recently announced that it would be investing over £30
million into a new social gaming unit to develop this segment and distribute its
own games on social networks.
Its new social gaming studio, Win, will be run by former Chief Executive
Officer of Mytopia, Barak Rabinowiz and plans to start developing and launching
new social gambling games, beginning with a poker product.
Bwin.Party will join top groups such as Zynga, which produces Texas HoldEm
Poker and attracts nearly 7 million daily active users. Playtika's Slotomania is
also an attractive game, with 2 million daily followers.