As we hypothesised, the majority of social casino game users reported that these games had no impact on how much they gambled and they had not gambled as a direct result of their social casino game play. Although social casino game users were significantly more likely than non-social casino game users to also gamble, this may represent a common interest in both activities rather than a directional influence between them. However, this research is somewhat limited in the extent to which it captures the relationship between gambling and gaming as it is reliant on self-report and the extent to which people gambled before and after their social casino game use is difficult to assess.
The vast majority of social casino game users were not interested in gambling on their favourite social casino game. This differs from reports from US social casino game users (Superdata, 2013) and perhaps reflects the greater availability of legal gambling opportunities within Australia. Users who had gambled as a result of social casino games were more likely to report an interest in gambling on their favourite social casino game, which may reflect their higher involvement in these games, as demonstrated by their propensity to pay to play. Users who had not gambled as a result of games were more likely to report that each motivation to play social casino games and gambling was not important. It is possible that these users were less involved with both social casino games and gambling, which explains why their gambling was less affected by their social casino game play. Analysis of a sample of US gamblers and social casino game users found that those who play social casino games more frequently also spend more time gambling online and more money gambling than their peers (Abarbanel & Rahman, 2015). Subgroups of social casino game users have not been examined, but this could reflect a greater interest in gambling-themed activities.
At-risk and problem gamblers lsm99 were more likely to report having increased their gambling and gambled as a direct result of their social casino game use. This indicates that this subset of social casino game users is vulnerable to engaging in excessive gambling, although it is likely that these problems were not initially caused by social casino games (see Gainsbury, Hing, et al., 2015). The impact of social casino games on vulnerable populations requires further investigation, particularly given that younger and male gamblers, and those from culturally diverse backgrounds, the group most likely to be influenced by social casino games, are already at greater risk of developing gambling problems (Gainsbury et al., 2014c, Johansson et al., 2009, Volberg et al., 2001). However, as directionality is not clear, it is also possible that gamblers, including those with gambling problems, play social casino games as a distraction from gambling. This is consistent with previous interviews with social casino game users, including an Australian sample which included several problem gamblers who purposefully engaged with social casino games in an attempt to reduce their online gambling expenditure (Gainsbury, Hing, et al., 2015). A survey of online gamblers similarly found a subset that had higher gambling expenditure who engaged in social casino games (Abarbanel & Rahman, 2015).