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Clubs Australia Forms Panel on Social Gambling Apps

Fri, Apr 5, 9:31am by Ed Scimia

Clubs Australia is creating a panel that will seek to establish rules for free-to-play social gambling apps – games some say can lead children to develop gambling habits even if they can’t place real bets with them.

These social games are actually a big business, even if the pokies and poker games they offer don’t give out real jackpots. Most make money by offering players the opportunity to buy perks and accessories for their in-game characters, with Australians reportedly spending close to $60 million each year on social media games on Facebook and mobile devices. As we recently reported, Australian firms like Virtual Gaming World are looking to enter this lucrative market themselves.

The Clubs Australia panel will investigate every aspect of social gaming in the hopes of developing codes of practice that will dictate how social gaming must operate in Australia. The goal is to develop harm-minimisation standards that equal those that apply to gambling in Australia’s clubs. The panel will include not only members of Clubs Australia, but also gaming manufacturers and other experts on online gambling.

“Clubs have long been at the forefront of providing safe, enjoyable land-based gambling in a responsible manner,” said Clubs Australia executive director Anthony Ball. “We’ve long called for similar standards to be applied to online gambling and these social gaming apps. The guidelines that our expert working group develop will provide a policy for clubs to abide by if they consider entering the social media space in the future and make sure that clubs continue to be leaders when it comes to…responsible conduct.”

A Lack of Standards

The move comes after the recent review of the Interactive Gambling Act, which sought to revisit the rules that currently govern online gambling in Australia. According to Clubs Australia officials, that review failed to establish rules or standards for social gambling apps.

Being at the forefront of setting rules on social gaming may have other benefits for Clubs Australia as well. In the fight over pokies reform, Clubs Australia was often seen as the pro-gambling counterpart to an anti-gambling push by the federal government, as the organization aggressively tried to defeat the potential reform schemes. In that respect they were largely successful, as the measures that ultimately passed were much weaker than those originally proposed by Andrew Wilkie and others.

But that battle may have come with a price in terms of public relations, as some saw Clubs Australia as being far more concerned with maximizing profits rather than showing social responsibility. In addition to the new panel on social gambling, Clubs Australia has sought to fight this perception by stressing their commitment to harm minimization in their venues.

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