The proportion of SNG users who become paying customers is generally small, with estimates suggesting that only 2.3% of all users made in-app purchases with real money (Swrve, 2015). Despite the small proportion of paying users, the massive number of users means that the global social casino market generated an estimated US$2.8 billion in revenue in 2014, a 37% increase from 2013 and revenue was expected to reach US$3.4 billion in 2015 (Eilers Research, 2015, Superdata, 2015). Not surprisingly, the high profitability of the social lsm99 casino market has attracted international interest, most notably from gambling operators who have, through partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, now become the dominant players in the social casino market. For example, Playtika, owned by Caesars Interactive Entertainment, a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the world’s largest gambling company, was estimated to account for 22% of the entire social casino game market,
whereas DoubleDown Casino, owned by gaming machine manufacturer IGT, accounted for 11% (Grove, 2015). An increasing number of land-based gambling venues are also now offering social casino games, often linked with player loyalty programs, for marketing and customer engagement purposes (Abarbanel and Rahman, 2015, Gainsbury et al., 2014a). However, despite apparent convergence between the gaming and gambling markets, several online gambling operators that have established online gambling on social casino games or directly on SNS have ceased these operations (Altaner, 2014, Amsel, 2013). The lack of success of these online gambling operations may indicate that the cross-over between the gambling and gaming markets does not necessarily translate to being able to ‘migrate’ social casino game users to a gambling product (Flood, 2015).
To date, little research has examined the convergence between gambling and gaming, although early evidence provides some grounds to justify more detailed investigations. For example, correlational studies show that young people who play gambling-themed games, including social casino games, are more likely to also engage in gambling and experience gambling problems (Ipsos MORI. et al., 2009, King et al., 2014, McBride and Derevensky, 2009, Parke et al.,). A study of 2010 Australian adult gamblers found that 13% also played social casino games, and these were more likely to be younger respondents, males and Australian born (Gainsbury, Russell, & Hing, 2014). They were also more likely to gamble online and be involved in all forms of gambling assessed, as well as smoke daily, use illicit drugs, experience gambling problems and have higher psychological distress. A survey of US social casino game users found that over one-third (36%) of participants visited a land-based casino more than twice a year, and two-thirds (68%) were interested in gambling on their favourite social casino game (Superdata, 2013). Similarly, a survey of online gamblers found that more frequent participation in social casino games was associated with greater gambling involvement (Abarbanel & Rahman, 2015). These results suggest some cross-over between the social casino game and gambling markets. In one longitudinal study, 409 US social casino gamers who had never gambled online were surveyed at two time-points (Kim, Wohl, Salmon, Gupta, & Derevensky, 2014). About one-quarter of the sample of social casino gamers reported having migrated to online gambling over the six-month period and making micro-transactions (payments) was the only unique statistical predictor of migration from social casino gaming to online gambling.