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An Exploration of How Simulated Gambling Games May Promote Gambling with Money

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Portable media devices, such as smartphones, have allowed gambling related content to infiltrate into a new market of potential consumers. Simulated gambling products are now readily available through multiple online platforms, and are becoming a popular form of entertainment for many young media users. Despite widespread use of these products, very little is known about how continued exposure to and involvement with simulated gambling may impact on real-money gambling attitudes and behaviours, particularly for young consumers. This paper reviews the literature exploring simulated gambling products and how consumption may promote monetary gambling, as well as fostering pro-gambling attitudes among youth and adolescents. Findings suggest that youth are highly exposed to simulated gambling games, and those who engage with these products are also more likely to be prone to monetary gambling and gambling problems. Virtual currency, in-game events and gambling themed content are also likely to promote biases about gambling or desensitise consumers to monetary losses. Simulated gambling products may therefore pose a risk to consumers, and particularly young consumers, rather than serve as a benign substitute for monetary gambling. To date, research has largely focused on correlational relationships between simulated and monetary gambling using cross-sectional methodologies. Future research should focus on determining the causal pathway between simulated gambling involvement and monetary gambling in order to identify and manage any risk associated simulated gambling participation.

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This study was funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (Grants for Gambling Research Program (Round 7) – 2015-1)

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Correspondence to Tess Armstrong.

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Armstrong, T., Rockloff, M., Browne, M. et al. An Exploration of How Simulated Gambling Games May Promote Gambling with Money. J Gambl Stud 34, 1165–1184 (2018).

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