Monthly Archives: November 2015

Are Social Casino Games Gambling?

The topic of online gambling and what actually constitutes it has been making news headlines of late, thanks to the fact that fantasy sports betting has come under the political spotlight in the US. It seems that all forms of sports and casino related gaming are now being scrutinised and many are questioning what actually constitutes gambling.

Social Casino Games are now also being questioned, with one class action suit in Washington challenging the courts to classify these games as gambling too. The plaintiff’s argue that although social casino games do not directly accept monetary bets, virtual casino chips which allow players to extend their game play are sold in a secondary market. This game model is similar to a host of other mobile games which allow players to use tokens to purchase items that will enable them to unlock the next level or certain rewards within the game.

The Washington Federal Court ruled that even though online social casino games may allow the use of purchasable virtual chips or coins, the absence of a stake and opportunity for monetary return mean that this form of gaming is not gambling. This means that any games that are free to play and do not award physical prizes other than player amusement fall under the non-gambling category.

For anti-online-gambling proponents, the availability of virtual chips for sale by a secondary market do raise concerns, but the court also ruled that the terms of service within these games that states that “virtual chips have no monetary value and cannot be exchanged for cash or merchandise” renders the existence of virtual currencies for the purpose of the game, inconsequential.

So what constitutes Gambling?

In terms of the laws and Gaming Commission rules of most countries, gambling has a threefold definition and all elements must be present within a game for it to be considered gambling.

  1. The game offers a prize
  2. There is some consideration required by the player, ie. something of value (usually monetary) in the form of a bet, wager or fee to play
  3. There is an element of chance in the game

Thus, any game that offers players the opportunity to play for free, even if real money can be used to enhance or extend the game play, if no prize is offered in return, then the game is not considered to be gambling.

This means that players are able to play social casino games with virtual chips which they may pay for with real money, but they will never really get anything out of it other than entertainment value.

While they do not offer the “social” aspect that some games do, you can still play online casino games for free in “free play mode” with the same entertainment value and ultimate effect without ever having to spend a cent on virtual coins. And by the above definition, there is nothing wrong with doing so and you’ll save money. Makes you think…

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?

online fantasy sports
Are Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?” This is a question that is at the center of one of the largest debates regarding the legality of the hobby in the US, but it has also drawn the interest of people across the globe.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will probably have noticed advertisements for daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and Fanduel being flighted during sports events, or the branding somewhere on the internet. What these sites offer is the opportunity for players to participate and compete in daily or week long fantasy sports games. Players pay to participate in these events and win or lose money according to how members of their teams of real life athletes perform during an actual sports game or match.

Whether or not you look at fantasy sports as gambling will depend on your definition of gambling and even the dictionaries vary in that. Google the word “Gamble” and you’ll find it defined as “playing games of chance for money“. While the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “to play a game in which you can win or lose money“.

As you can see from the above, those definitions are open to interpretation and as such have been causing huge contention between various groups and governments across the world.

In the US, unlike online casinos and sportsbooks which are illegal in most states, fantasy sports games have flown under the radar, mostly because they are technically considered “games of skill” as opposed to “games of chance” and have therefore not been classified as gambling.

This assumption is a little shaky given that casino games like blackjack are also games of skill, but nevertheless have been outlawed as “gambling” by the US government. In fact, the whole US based argument hinges on the language of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) which specifically details games of chance as being illegal.

When this act was drafted, the majority of fantasy sports were friendly leagues and even if money changed hands, they were season-long, low stakes games between friends, not daily or weekly games orchestrated by huge companies that actively accept and pay out cash based on results. In essence, these platforms just provide players with another way to bet on sports as money is risked based on their predictions of a specific outcome.

Of course, daily fantasy sports sites and those who run them insist that they are legal due to the fact that they qualify as games of skill rather than games of chance wherein the player has no influence on the outcome no matter how skilled he/she may be and winning or losing is determined simply by luck.

If you are skilled enough to be able to predict an outcome correctly, then it’s not gambling – or this is the argument currently being debated. How you see it is open to interpretation.