DraftKings chief international officer Jeffrey Haas has called for the regulation of the social gaming industry because he believes social gamers should be afforded the same protections as consumers of regulated online gambling, Gambling Insider reports.
Speaking at the iGB Live conference in Amsterdam last week, Haas said the lack of regulatory guidance for social gaming operators was “preposterous” and would ultimately harm the industry.
Unlike the online gambling industry, social gaming operators are not required to set deposit limits, play limits, or loss limits, or to publicize the odds of winning, for example. And yet politicians across the world are increasingly demanding to know whether the casino-like dynamics of some social games, as well as their addictive nature, means they should be classified as gambling.
“These social gaming companies are generating hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenues, and how can we be sure they are running fair games? How can we be sure they are protecting consumers?” asked Haas.
Is Social Gaming Gambling?
In Haas’ industry, daily fantasy sports, the “gambling or not” debate hinges on whether DFS contests are games of skill or chance. With social gaming — and especially social casino gaming — its about whether in-game virtual currencies can be said to constitute “something of value.”
That’s because gambling, almost universally, is defined as risking something of value to win something of value. In the view of the UK Gambling Commission, for example, it can’t be.
“If the prize is not money or money’s worth, they are not gambling under UK legislation,” the regulator has declared, although it did express concern that “social gaming and commercial gambling have become increasingly blurred.”
It noted that the “vast majority” of social gamers play for “very modest” amounts of money and the minority that play for significant amounts is “not sufficiently large to warrant regulatory intervention.”
Whose Job Is It?
The problem is, for social gaming to be brought under the oversight of gambling regulators, it must first be classed as gambling, and, in many cases, it isn’t. But Haas believes there are other government bodies that can step in,
“Regulators will come in at some point, whether it’s in banking, consumer affairs or gaming. I think it’s important to be ahead of the curve with these things, to ensure operators are operating with integrity and consumers are protected, so that they don’t lose money they can’t afford to,” said Haas. “The result of which could be a bad thing for any company that operates within the gaming industry or even gaming/entertainment.”
“There is a significant element of potential harm to consumers if they play irresponsibly, where they cannot set deposit limits, play limits or loss limits,” he added.
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