Unregulated Simulation Casino Games in Australia
Australians are spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on unregulated simulation casino games, which have no chance of winning anything. These games, often called “social casino games” or “loot boxes,” allow players to buy virtual currency and use it to play casino-style games without any chance of winning real money.
According to the chair of the federal parliamentary enquiry examining online gambling, Peta Murphy, there is concern that these games are normalizing gambling for children and could be harmful. In addition, some experts believe these games could be a breeding ground for problem gamblers, as they create an illusion of winning and can be addictive.
The Regulation of Social Casino Games and Loot Boxes
The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 prohibits internet gambling in Australia but does not currently cover social casino games or loot boxes. However, a committee is reviewing the definition of “gambling service” in the act to determine whether it should be expanded to include these activities.
The NSW state election has also brought the future of gaming to the forefront of political debate, with both Labor and the Coalition making it a top priority. Regulating social casino games and loot boxes will likely be crucial to this debate.
One of Australia’s most popular social casino games is Lightning Link Casino, which has made more money than any other game in the country for at least three years, according to app store analyst Sensor Tower. The game, similar in appearance and audio to Aristocrat’s poker machines, uses fictitious money that can be topped up with real money. Players can also purchase package deals to encourage expenditure.
Aristocrat, Australia’s largest producer of poker machines, has several free-to-play pokie simulators available. These games include social features and in-app purchases and use the same games in bars and clubs. By avoiding the chance for players to win real money, Aristocrat can keep the earnings and avoid being classified as a gambling establishment.
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