The UK Gambling Commission, after having carefully considered the matter, has decided to thoroughly investigate the social gaming industry much to the discomfort of several operators of online gambling sites. The commission has already begun its investigation because it felt that the social games offered at social networking sites can no longer be considered different from traditional games of chance offered at online gaming sites
Usually, users of social networking sites can play social games free of charge, owing to which social networking sites have so far escaped the watchful eyes of gambling regulators in the US and the UK. Simultaneously, it cannot be denied that some social networking sites encourage players to purchase extra chips or points with real money. The UK Gambling Commission feels that there is an urgent need to decide whether this can be considered as gambling and whether social networking sites can be allowed to offer points and chips for real money without a license.
Ivor Jones, a gambling analyst for Numis Securities, says that if the commission decides that social games offered at social networking sites need to be licensed and regulated, “it will be difficult for them to continue to be offered to many players, which would financial hurt the games operator.”
At the same time, a number of people feel that that social gaming must be licensed and regulated as young children have easy access to and even register accounts at social networking sites. Since players can start playing these games free of charge to begin with and will only be prompted to purchase extra points or chips later on, several parents feel that minors cannot get addicted to these games.
Several online gambling companies, however, hardly find this threatening. Recently, Bwin.party Digital announced that it will invest more than £30 million in a new social gaming company, which will focus on developing social games and distributing them on social networking sites. Barak Rabinowiz, former CEO for Mytopia, will be at the helm of this new social gaming company, which will first launch poker games into the social gaming world.
When it finally launches its brand new social gaming company, Bwin.party will become one of the major competitors of existing developers of social games such as Zynga, which developed Texas Hold’em for Facebook, a game that attracts more than 7 million players daily, and Playtika, the developer of Slotomania, which gets more than 2 million players everyday.