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Background and aims

The potential link between social casino gaming and online gambling has raised considerable concerns among clinicians, researchers and policy makers. Unfortunately, however, there is a paucity of research examining this potential link, especially among young adults. This represents a significant gap given young adults are frequently exposed to and are players of social casino games.

Methods

To better understand the potential link between social casino games and online gambling, we conducted three focus groups (N = 30) at two large Canadian Universities with college students who were avid social media users (who are regularly exposed to social casino games).

Results

Many participants spontaneously mentioned that social casino games were a great opportunity to build gambling skills before playing for real money. Importantly, some participants expressed a belief that there is a direct progression from social casino gaming to online gambling. Conversely, others believed the transition to online gambling depended on a person’s personality, rather than mere exposure to social casino games. While many young adults in our focus groups felt immune to the effects of social casino games, there was a general consensus that social casino games may facilitate the transition to online gambling among younger teenagers (i.e., 12–14 yr olds), due to the ease of accessibility and early exposure.

Discussion

The results of the present research point to the need for more study on the effects of social casino gambling as well as a discussion concerning regulation of social casino games in order to minimize their potential risks.

Open access