Assessment 3

Mobile Social Gambling: Nascent Culture Supported by SNS-based Community

Karen WEI


Thursday 6-9 pm

Unit Tutor: Cherryldene Baylosis



With the emerging of portable devices in this era, it enlarged possibility of other forms of media (particularly mass media) to be more reachable and sharable. It can be achieved by a smart phone and share a link between two independent users, thus simply explains social media in a broader way, to socialize the media. Smartphone became a tool of social media, it allows people to reach a much broader world for entertainment, information, and building up relationships.

This article aims to raise an example, mobile social gambling, of above phenomenon with personal thoughts to argue how online social community encourages mobile social gambling. Three aspects are being touched, how mobile gaming and gambling converges, how does it link to social media, and what are existing issues.

The cultural entertainment of mobile social gambling

It is still controversial to define mobile social gambling is equal to social gaming, however, it can be seen as a new form of entertainment which combines media and culture. For instance, online poker appeared in the late 1990s and currently there are about hundreds of different sites online (Torres & Goggin, 2014). It is launched on mobile platforms or tablets and also nested in social networking sites (SNSs).

Now if you log in your Facebook account, it is not hard to find some game applications that are embedded in there. You are able to download simply by touching the screen and you will be led to their page automatically. Besides using an e-mail account, users are welcomed to log in the game with the Facebook or other social media platforms’ account. Users can choose one mode from viewed by themselves, their friends, or public in the privacy setting. While you are playing, you are also consuming, sometimes sharing, and even spending real money in it. Actually, your money been ‘invested’ will later be the profit of the game company or social media platform, or both. Therefore, this kind of mode is not new today and this is how mobile social gambling works on social media platforms.

webwxgetmsgimgFigure 1. A screenshot of the social casino app Slots Journey

(It encourages users to connect to their Facebook friends for sharing their personal data. Retrieved from Torres and Alberto, 2014, p.56)

Mobile social gambling companies ‘pretend’ to be games by making use of cultural capital that people regard game as entertainment. The low risk feature and 24/7 ‘opened’ make users easier to access while gambling would not be that easy, especially for juveniles. The following chart may illustrate how gaming (games) and gambling converge due to the cultural phenomenon:

Games→Social media games→generally are casual


                                        Mobile gaming←Mobile social gambling←Social media←Gambling

As Schüll (2012) states:

The low-stakes devices fit comfortably with the redefinition of gambling as “gaming” by

industry spokespeople and state officials who hoped to sway public endorsement of the

activity as a form of mainstream consumer entertainment rather than a form of moral

failing or predatory entrapment. (Schüll, 2012, p. 5)


Figure 2. Social casino market infographic

(Retrieved from Crowdpark, n.d.)

crowdpark-mobile-social-casino-games-infographicFigure 3. Mobile social casino market infographic

(Retrieved from Crowdpark, n.d.)

I used to believe gaming is not social, because my perception of a game was still based on the old stereotype. In the past, reality games are played solo or with two or more players, but one is not associated with another if the game is stopped. As computer games as a transition, though some have a game forum for players to discuss their thoughts and give a space for users to create content, people still have stereotype on online games that one sitting in front of a screen and being isolated from the family or the real world. Since my research shows strong evidence on how offline relationship affects the online relationship of SNSs, I realize after computer games era, social media games reach a massive multiplayer that I could not even imagine. Is gambling an intermediary? Now I will answer, definitely. Players seem as influencers as well as promoters of the ‘game’, which digital and multichannel networks can help with that. Although one is still physically isolated, the relationships from online to offline exist even the screen is turned off.

Political governance and ethical issue

According to Torres and Alberto (2014), in French law gambling is defined as “stipulates that a game of chance is a game in return of a payment where chance prevails over skill and intelligence to obtain gain” (Torres and Alberto, 2014, P. 49).  However, online gambling does not necessarily include real financial earning or monetary reward. It has been debated that it is impossible to regulate online gambling with a same standard of reality gambling (Sally, 2012), because the big quantity of users have different motivations and diverse demographics.

The reason that gaming companies put themselves on social platforms can be multiple. Such as to increase revenue from massive population online, most importantly, to combine with online intimate nature because it seems easier to be motivated to play a game if one of your friends invite you online to join the game.

The boundary between legal and illegal blurs because mobile social gambling allows players to present in both areas at the same time. The limit of gaming and gambling also blurs because users in different places may have different regulations which create difficulties to regulate. Due to ‘the magic circle’ that gaming is off the real world to be also on digital platforms, the synchronous appearance of everywhere and nowhere in regards to place and jurisdiction create difficulty to locate the ‘gamble’.

Mobile social gambling also leads to an ethical dilemma that should it be regulated or not. The emerging technology in this century actually is no doubt empowering the public, meanwhile, governors are trying to limit public access to it. But if we think back to the core concept of social media, after all, Web 2.0 is not about technology anymore, but more on abandoning control, trust, openness, and authenticity (Macnamara & Zerfass, 2012). The convergence of mobile social gambling and gaming pushes the answer to be blurry.

Conclusion and application

Mobile social gambling is a young culture encouraged by SNS-based community. Mobile social gambling players can be seen as a community of networked publics, they are connected by networked technology and are “simultaneously a space and a collection of people” (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013, p. 8). By applying this nature of online community to my social media campaign this semester (the Con), it could be establishing a membership for the Con’s audiences (and performers). After they watched a performance, it is an on and offline community that enables them to express personal feelings. They can log in with their membership ID to arrange the next tickets and their profiles are updated automatically after a new ticket are purchased. Within the community their friends are connected thus peers can share what is the next plan and who is on a show right now. Slowly, the cultural influence will be accumulated and with this peer production and sharing, there can be a motivation to go to the concert due to relevance.


Freegate. (26 February, 2017). In Wikipedia. Retrieved 23 April, 2017, from

Hinton, S. & Hjorth, L. (2013). Social network sites. In Understanding social media (pp. 32 54). London: SAGE. Retrieved from 

Macnamara, J. & Zerfass, A. (2012). Social Media Communication in Organizations: The Challenges of Balancing Openness, Strategy, and Management. International Journal of Strategic Communication. Retrieved from

Sally, G. (2012). Internet Gambling. New York, NY: Springer New York. Retrieved from 

Schüll, N. D. (2012). Addiction by design: Machine gambling in Las Vegas. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from

Torres, A. & Alberto, C. (2014). Encoding chance: a technocultural analysis of digital gambling. Retrieved from

Torres, C. A., & Goggin, G. (2014). Mobile social gambling: Poker’s next frontier. Mobile Media & Communication (pp. 94–109). ISSN: 2050-1587. Retrieved from


One thought on “Mobile Social Gambling: Nascent Culture Supported by SNS-based Community

  1. Hi Karen,
    It is a very interesting article about mobile social gambling, the portable devices have contributed significantly to this new online service. In my opinion, gambling is exactly the game when stake real money on it. Most of games are created for entertainment rather than gain, but they can be turned to a gambling once gamers have a bet on game for cash. As you said, the boundary between legal and illegal has become blur because users from the world could participate in at the real time. For example, the gambling in Australia is legal while it is illegal in China. Therefore, countries are impossible to regulate the online gambling even if some users are under the age that the law forbid.

    The gambling is always an ethical dilemma, it is greatly promoted due to the advent of mobile technologies. Now, it seems much more intractable to manage since it exists in a virtual community. I heard an negative news in China that a child played poker games on his parent’s mobile phone, and he lost tens of thousands of Yuan directly from his parents’ bank account, which is linked to the cell phone account. The story reminds us that mobile gambling would be a potential threat because it much easier to get access whoever the user is. It is important to be care in case being addicted to the gambling.

    I am totally agree that the online community could boost the interpersonal relationship, as the last paragraph you post. People might find their belonging by simply searching key words of topic, which enhances the engagement with peers.


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