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Although the directionality of this relationship cannot be confirmed using the present design, it is possible that the gamblers wanted to maintain the experience of gambling without spending as much money and made the transition to social games. These findings should be explored in more detail; it is possible that social casino games might be a useful substitute for highly involved gamblers who want to reduce their expenditure and this could be encouraged as part of an intervention or treatment program. However, caution is also needed if at-risk gamblers are experiencing triggers that lead to increased gambling as a result of these games. Consideration should be given to the inclusion of warnings within social casino games to inform users that gambling activities are not equivalent and outcomes within a social game are unlikely to be replicated in a gambling activity.

Although the sample was not representative of all Australian social casino gamers, it was taken from a relatively large panel sample and the results are similar to previous studies, so it may be a relatively accurate representation of this population. It is possible that some responses were affected by misunderstanding. For example, a proportion of users reported that they were motivated to play social casino games to win money, which is inconsistent with the definition of these games (provided to respondents) that the games do not involve any monetary prizes. Although directionality was partially assessed, it is difficult to measure whether users ceased one activity, moved repeatedly between these or exactly how the use of the two activities is related. Similarly, we cannot determine whether those migrating to gambling were initiating gambling for the first time, or already engaged in this activity. The survey also only asked about the past 12 months so that people who played social casino games more than 12 months ago and migrated to gambling but no longer play social casino games were not captured. Further research should investigate the timeline of involvement in social casino games and gambling in more detail

The current study demonstrated that there is a subset of social casino gamers who report that they engage in gambling as a result of social casino games, most commonly driven by the motivation to win money and gain more excitement. Migration may also be motivated by irrational beliefs about the association between these two activities, including increased gambling skill as a result of playing games. Nonetheless, for the majority of social casino game users their gambling is unaffected by their use of these games. Further research is needed to investigate how social casino games impact gambling, including longitudinal research to examine changes in gambling and gaming over time. It is likely that gambling and gaming will continue to converge and include social media as an important platform with which to engage users. As technological and industry developments continue, the impact of each industry on the other and among users will need to be monitored and assessed, particularly to protect vulnerable users.

This study was commissioned lsm99  by Gambling Research Australia [Use of Social Media in Gambling] – a partnership between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments. GRA had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, writing the manuscript, or the decision tThe authors wish to confirm that there are no known conflicts of interest associated with this publication.

All authors were involved in designing the study and writing the protocol, writing and editing the manuscript and all authors have approved the final manuscript. We confirm that the manuscript has been read and approved by all named authors and that there are no other persons who satisfied the criteria for authorship but are not listed. We further confirm that the order of authors listed in the manuscript has been approved by all of us.We confirm that we have given due consideration to the protection of intellectual property associated with this work and that there are no impediments to publication, including the timing of publication, with respect to intellectual property. In so doing we confirm that we have followed the regulations of our institutions concerning intellectual property.We further confirm that any aspect of the work covered in this manuscript that has involved human participants has been conducted with the ethical approval of all relevant bodies and that such approvals are acknowledged within the manuscript.

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