ACMA publishes market snapshot of social casinos

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Social casinos are generally known to provide online casino games without offering any opportunity to win real money. At the end of March the Australian Communications and Media Authority has published a snapshot of the social casino market. This document is intended to provide information on industry trends and consumer habits.

ACMA publishes a snapshot of the social casino market

Social casinos offer casino-like games without any chance of winning real money. However, users can often still purchase chips with play money that can be used to play casino games for entertainment purposes. It should also be noted that the majority of these types of games are designed to be played on a smartphone or tablet.

It is also important to note that social casinos are generally not regulated by the ACMA or the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 as these businesses do not offer players a chance to win. Instead, players only participate in a pay-to-play mobile game like any other mobile game. The ACMA has been quite upset, including when it recently blocked No Deposit Kings and several other online gambling sites. Fortunately for social casino operators, these rules and regulations do not apply.

What is a social casino?

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Social casinos are primarily known as operators that offer casino games such as blackjack and slots. The main difference between a social casino and a real commercial gambling operator is that a real social casino does not offer any chance of winning or withdrawing real money. Games exist only to simulate the gambling experience.

Most of the time, social casinos allow players to download the app for free. Apps usually provide new players with an allotment of free coins to get started and play. Social casinos will then extend offers to players to purchase coins or chips to continue playing or place larger bets.

As the ACMA says, social casinos essentially offer a form of ‘simulated gambling’. Social casinos have recently exploded in popularity, with the industry reaching a market cap of $7.3 billion by 2021. The ACMA Market Snapshot estimates that over $300 million has been spent on social slot games alone.

ACMA Social Casinos Key FindingsSome of the key findings from the ACMA market snapshot

Major social casino companies in Australia and around the world

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According to ACMA filings, 60% of the global social casino market is made up of the top five brands in the space. The top five brands are Moon Active, Playtika, Aristocrat, SciPlay and Zynga.

According to Stratview Research, there is a higher demand for social games in developed countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia. This is believed to be due to the widespread adoption of smartphones and the greater presence of key players. In short, countries and areas with knowledge of these types of games and ways of playing are the areas with the greatest prevalence.

The United States is the largest market comprising 60% of the total market. In an interesting tidbit, although India is not one of the top five markets for social casino games, India was the leader in the first half of 2022 in terms of social game downloads.

Social Casinos and EarningsThe five largest social casino operators and their respective revenue figures

As we can review the chart in the picture above, the biggest brands in the online social casino space bring in significant revenue. Considering that these casinos don’t offer players a chance to win, this seems a bit mind-boggling Moon Activethe world’s most successful brand by revenue, brought in $1.8 billion between January 2020 and December 2021.

If we take a closer look at some of these brands and their products, we can see many similarities. Playtika, Aristocrat and SciPlay mostly offer slots, while Moon Active operates a bit differently, offering a small portfolio of social casino games that feature daily previews and game mechanics rather than more traditional slots. Zynga is primarily known for offering free poker through the Zynga Poker app, but the brand also offers slots.

Zynga Poker Home PageZynga Poker is a popular social gaming app

Similar casinos and social gambling

In addition to the companies discussed above, another subset of online gambling that is quite similar to the social casino model is worth mentioning. While true social casinos like Zynga do not offer players a way to win real money, there are other “social” casinos that use a similar model to perpetuate real money gaming.

Brands like Chumba Casino and Global Poker mostly use game chips to specifically disguise their real money gaming offerings. These types of sites often offer customers the opportunity to withdraw money or win real money.

The way this works is that these so-called “social” casinos will have two separate currencies that players can use to play their games. If we use Chumba and Global Poker as examples, we can see that players can buy gold coins or Sweeps Coins. While Gold Coins offer truly “social” games without the opportunity to win real money, Sweeps Coins actually mimic a real US dollar. 1 Sweeps Coin costs $1 and players can draw in a variety of ways, some easier than others.

Gold Coin Packs at Global PokerGold Coins are just for fun, while Sweeps Coins are worth $1

Why play at a social casino?

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Social casinos are widely regarded as the most popular type of mobile gaming. There are approx 85 million players every day worldwide and had approx 1.39 billion downloads in 2020

Key Market Trends in Social CasinoKey market trends in social games

As shown in the chart provided by ACMA above, the global social casino market is growing rapidly and is expected to grow at around 5% per annum until 2025. The question you may be asking yourself and which crossed our mind was : Why do so many people want to pay money to play a casino style game that offers no potential winnings?

In a recently released ACMA snapshot, we can see that a company called Aarki has provided a detailed look at some of the key demographics and what the average social casino user typically looks like. They estimate that 63% of social casino players are employed (and married), while 86% of users earn over $75,000 per year.

Demographics of Social CasinosThe demographics of the average social casino user

While it’s a bit difficult to determine what these indicators really mean, there are a few additional things to note. Players who prefer games such as slots, card games and bingo are usually over 45 years of age. Social casino game play is almost evenly split between male and female players.

An Australian study cited by the ACMA compared 521 non-paying and paying social game players who were willing to participate in an online survey. The study concluded that paying players tend to be male, younger in age, have a university education and even speak a language other than English.

Another notable part of the market snapshot is a list of motivations for playing online social casino games. Although research is still early, recent studies have shown that common motivating factors include fun or relaxation, relief of negative emotions, coping with boredom, practicing gambling with real money as a substitute for real gambling, and challenge.

Play for real instead of winning real money

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Although social casinos are obviously increasing and gaining popularity worldwide, it seems that it would make more sense for people to play for free without paying for additional coins or products. Alternatively, you can play real casino games at a trusted and reputable online casino. The majority of legitimate online casinos such as Cafe Casino and Ignition allow players to play all their casino games for free if they choose.

Of course, you won’t be able to win real money if you go to a reputable online casino and choose to play only for free, but you can enjoy casino-style games like slots without any costs. These kinds of free games are widely offered to allow players to try out games before deciding if they want to bet real money, so it just doesn’t make sense to choose to play at a social casino over an online operator like Ignition Casino.

At, we have prepared a detailed guide to help you choose the best online casino in the United States. For Australian players, you may want to check out this page on the best offshore casinos that cater to Australians instead.

In addition to our casino and poker coverage, we also cover online sports betting in detail. Please feel free to review this comprehensive guide to online sports betting for additional information. You may also want to check out our page dedicated to the best online sports betting for US players.

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