Facets and Dimensions of Online Social Gambling: Refining Tools for Marketing Communications

Facets and Dimensions of Online Social Gambling: Refining Tools for Marketing Communications

Jason Prasad (University of Wales, UK) and Wilson Ozuem (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6595-8.ch012


While the concern with online gambling and its implications for marketing communications scholars and practitioners has increased during the recent years, it remains an understudied area. This is unfortunate since the advent of Internet technology widens the platform for global gambling, and many companies face some challenges in balancing online social gambling and real money gambling. Drawing on qualitative research, this chapter examines online social gambling and real money gambling marketing communication practices and offers some insights on the development and implementation of effective marketing communication programmes. In contrast to existing studies, the chapter, in part, proposes integrative and higher levels of marketing communication programmes between online social gambling and real money gambling environments.
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As profit driven entities, internet gambling companies (also referred to as ‘online gambling’ and ‘real money gambling online’ in this study) are seeking expansion into a rapidly growing online social gambling industry (Yakuel, 2013; Chang and Zhang, 2008). A few of the large internet gambling companies and social gambling companies have already started spending millions of dollars trying to fight for market share; while other gambling companies and social gambling companies have begun building strategic alliances (Johnson, 2013). These actions have sparked controversy within the industry in terms of how companies should handle both markets (Schneider, 2012; Goode, 2013; Morgan Stanley, 2012). This controversy, combined with limited research within the social gambling industry, has left industry leaders and scholars with different ideas about how to understand the business models of the social gambling and internet gambling industries, and more specifically, whether or not to merge them together or keep them separate (Schneider, 2012; Goode, 2013; Collson, 2012a; Rogers, 2013; Morgan Stanley, 2012). This has spawned debate amongst government officials about whether or not social gambling online can actually be considered ‘gambling’ and whether or not they should step in and regulate the online social gambling market (Alaeddini, 2013; Cohen, 2013). Furthermore, authors also have different perspectives about online gaming and there appears to be no clear definition of what online gaming entails (Yee, 2006; Raylu and Oei, 2002; Jieun, et al., 2011; Schneider, 2012). More specifically, Yee (2006) and Kaye (2012) claim online gaming involves playing traditional video type games online; while Owens (2010) and Alaeddini (2013) suggest that internet gambling games are forms of online gaming; and Jieun, et al., (2011), Roche (2012), and Odobo (2013a) suggest that the definition also includes the relatively new industry social gaming (including social gambling).

The advantage for internet gambling companies is they can exploit marketing opportunities within the unregulated social gambling industry that they can no longer do within the regulated internet gambling industry. The social gambling industry is unregulated in over 99% of countries globally, primarily because it is currently not considered to be gambling (Morgan Stanley, 2012). More specifically, some social gambling sites do not allow real life monetary value for their virtual currency (fake gambling chips), while other social sites do not accept payments (wagers) from players for prizes won. Either way, both strategies eliminate one of the three key elements for something to be considered gambling (UK Gambling Act, 2005). This allows real money gambling sites direct access to players where local governments have placed legal restrictions for internet gambling marketing communication programmes and consumer buying.

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