While everyone knows what real money casinos are, many people have never heard of social gaming (even though they probably have taken part in such an activity). If you’ve ever played online poker vs. bots, you’ve engaged with a social casino.

Now, while some see this as a pastime, others characterize social gaming as an outlet for those living in regions where gambling is illegal. Still, what about countries like the Philippines, where online betting is legal? Do people still engage in social casinos there? Let’s find out!

What are social casinos?

The simplest way to explain social casinos is to say they’re video games emulating casino games.

Imagine playing roulette in GTA V. It’s still the same game, but you only play with in-game currency.

Nonetheless, there’s a difference. With most social casino apps, you only have a limited amount of freerolls daily. Then, you must either wait for the timer to reset or use real money to buy more of this in-game currency.

So, what’s the difference if you’re buying it with real money?

The difference is that your in-game winnings are non-redeemable (at least not in real-world rewards). In other words, you’re not betting but just paying for the betting experience.

For some, this causes social problems of its own. For instance, some people argue that it was never the financial aspect of betting that was called into question but rather the allure of the game itself. While the ball is spinning or just before the card is revealed, you’ll feel the rush similar to being in a real casino. How much difference does that extra incentive of a potential monetary gain make? We may still lack the data to answer this ethical question.

Online betting in Southeast Asia and the Philippines?

Online or offline, real money casinos are often illegal throughout Southeast Asia. This is why those who want to partake in casino games have only two options:

  • Finding an offshore betting site
  • Engaging in social casinos

Now, while there’s a huge difference between the two (the first one being betting and the latter merely a simulation), some people are into casinos for the games themselves. The iGaming experience is sometimes so immersive that players often spend hours playing, even in a virtual casino (with no prospects of getting monetary value).

Now, just to be clear, online betting is legal in the Philippines. This means that finding a real-money casino app in the Philippines is not too hard—there are plenty of licenced, safe platforms for players looking for the thrill of real money games. Not only is it legal, but betting is incredibly popular in the Philippines. According to the official statistics from the Philippines government, when you consider all arts, entertainment, and recreation venues in the country, gambling and betting activities take up about 41.4%, making them the biggest category on the list.

So, do people still engage in social casino activities even though online betting is legal? Absolutely…

Social gaming is on the rise

…Despite fearmongering from some, social gaming seems not to grow as rapidly as some expected. In 2015, 21% of survey takers confirmed participating in social gaming. In 2017, this number grew to 24%; however, in 2018, it marked a three-point decline, only to go further down to 20% in 2019.

During the pandemic, the numbers for every online activity increased. The number of hours of YouTube videos skyrocketed, the number of viewers on an average Twitch stream, and even the popularity of chess, reached its all-time high. The same happened to both social gaming and real money gaming.

Truth be told, during a pandemic, the popularity of gaming grew drastically in general. So, examining numbers from 2020 and 2021 might not be as representative as expected.

Is there a crossover?

Those who are concerned about the use of social casinos often consider the potential crossover between the realm of social and real money casinos. In other words, some see social casinos as a gateway to real casinos. They envision a scenario where a social casino player eventually turns to a real casino after they’ve spent long enough practicing their skills with these games.

In fact, there’s a positive aspect of this as well. For instance, people who already play at real money casinos may decide to try social betting to figure out how effective their strategies of choice are. In this particular scenario, they try new ideas in a controlled environment. They may even put their power of restraint or willpower to the test to get an idea of how well they would handle a real casino. In this scenario, social gaming would be used as a means for one to learn how to play more responsibly.

Instead of using real money, all you would need is a smartphone (which 76.1% of people in the Philippines already have) and a connection to the internet (preferably high-speed).

While there’s always a potential to spend more, according to some surveys, only about 5% of social gamers pay for additional spins. Most just use their freerolls and then wait for the timer to reset.

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