No Slots for Tots’, that’s the name of a campaign that has been setup at www.noslotsfortots.org. The focus of the campaigners is their objection to a certain sort of game which they feel should not be accessible to children.
The genres of the games in question are those that fall into the category of ‘social casino games’. Effectively these often take the shape of games which look like slots and play like slots. The reason these cause such a stir is the fact that they’re available to players who would be too young to play traditional casino games, because in the UK the 18 years of age restriction applies.
Before we look into the argument of the critics, lets take a look at what these games actually are. Firstly they exist on many modern, highly accessible platforms such as social networks, app stores and regular websites. The actual games themselves, as mentioned before, generally take the form of what are generally thought of as slots machines. The crucial point however is that these games do not accept money to wager and therefore are not classed as gambling, don’t be fooled though, these games are highly profitable, but the creators have been pretty inventive about where the money comes from.
If you’ve ever played Farmville of Candy Crush you’ll have probably got to a point where in order to proceed or access a certain feature you’ve been asked to purchase some app credits. This is precisely the same way that these social casino games make their money, and they make lots of it too, £1.9BN in 2014, according to Free Bingo Land.
Now lets turn to where the criticisms lay, those who are against the concept tend to be parents who fear that their kids will develop a taste for the games and in turn acquire a taste for slots machines. It’s pretty obvious that the concern thereafter is that these children will pursue actual gambling machines and then launch onto a slippery slope.
In the UK, the criticism of these games has reached a wide audience thanks to coverage in national newspapers. The developers behind these games have been quick to present a defence. One of the main lines of defence, which came from The International Social games Association, is that only ‘a tiny proportion’ of players are under the age of 18, qualifying that point by stating that only 0.15% of players fall between the ages of 11-18.
What happens going forward is going to be interesting to see, predictably there are some huge names who seem intent on securing themselves a slice of this emerging market, Bwin Party, for example have a ‘$50m investment’ plan for Social Gaming, according to a news story in Bloomberg.
So far there has been no mention of these games receiving any special regulation, whether or not that continues to be the case could depend on how loud the voice of the opposition is and the strength of their argument on what is surely going to continue to be an emotive issue.