Besides sharing a similar name, the activities of gaming and gambling are very similar. The two main differences between the two terms are one of skill versus chance and monetary betting. In gaming, an outcome is generally achieved through expertise, and besides purchasing a game or subscription, no money is needed to participate.

In gaming, there are no monetary gains except for professional gaming such as pros competing for prize pools in esports. In gambling, an outcome is normally achieved by chance and in all acts of participating and playing games in gambling, money is at stake, where a person is betting to win money on an outcome. It's easy to get confused when turning our heads online to make a comparison between gaming and gambling addictions. The term used to describe the online gambling industry is iGaming.

What is Online Gambling?

Gambling is an umbrella term for a collection of activities and games which involves real-money betting, which sometimes can include elements of skill, such as playing Blackjack in a digital live casino or placing favourable bets on which team to win in a cricket match. Another reason for the term is that gambling is a derogatory term in many cultures.

In India, gambling is often linked to criminal activities such as crime syndicates and the mafia. Online gambling, in particular, is distancing itself from the often foul history of gambling by using the term iGaming. Online gambling is heavily regulated by independent regulatory bodies and governments around the world. This makes it impossible for an online casino to prey on consumers by stipulating rules relating to responsible gaming and are forced to implement anti-money laundering measures to combat organised crime. The regulations put tremendous pressure on companies to operate online casinos lawfully.

Jungleraja Leovegas Image
Gambling is an umbrella term for a collection of activities and games which involves real-money betting

For example, in India, the popular online casino Jungleraja takes responsible gaming very seriously. They have a whole department of employees dedicated only to responsible gaming where software tools are used to track the activity of their user. The sole purpose of the responsible gaming department is to prohibit users from gambling if they are displaying problematic playing behaviours. Ultimately this is beneficial to Jungleraja as they are compliant with regulations, provide safe services and have a minimum negative impact on society. As a positive side effect, such operators gain the favour of review platforms who advocate responsible gaming and provide credible reviews of online casinos as those mentioned in this article, Jungleraja and Leovegas.

Over the past 20 years or so, the gambling industry has changed a lot. With the advent of online gambling or iGaming in the 1990s, gambling has gradually become a socially accepted activity, as a form of entertainment. However, in many cultures, it's still linked to criminal activities and gambling problems. One online casino that can be credited to driving change over the past decade is Leovegas. They are recognised globally as a role model for other companies operating in the iGaming industry by setting examples and raising the bar when it comes to responsible gaming and safeguarding their users. As a result, Leovegas have enjoyed tremendous growth and success not only in India but all over the world.

Video Gaming

Traditional video or PC gaming, on the other hand, doesn't involve real-money betting. If we disregard professional streamers and esports pros, playing video games is for pure entertainment. It's widely regarded as one of the most important parts of the entertainment industry, and arguably the essential part of the entertainment industry moving forward. Besides buying a game title or having access to a game through a subscription, no money is needed to participate, and no money can be gained by completing campaign mode in Call of Duty or finishing a quest in World of Warcraft.

Video Game Popularity
Video Games Popularity

All forms of entertainment are made to keep us seated and focused on what we are engaging with or watching. This is true for both gaming and gambling as well. In gaming, even though there is no money involved for a leisure player, the game is designed to keep the player hooked. As a player wins a round, completes a level or finishes a quest they get a sense of achievement and some form of in-game reward.

Most games are designed with the sole intent of having the player coming back to play more, to purchase some downloadable content, modifications or the sequel of the game when it's released. Often in gaming, the rule is that the more you play, the better you become, especially in multiplayer games where a player plays against other players online. This same approach is used in gambling to enhance the experience further while betting.

Game Design v sgame Development
Game Design & Development

In online slot games, for example, a slot has optimised visuals and sounds that vary in intensity depending on where in the game a user is. The visuals and music will change if the user wins, enters bonus mode or unlocks side-games. Live casinos use streaming and stream the setup of an actual land-based casino where users can play games like Roulette and Blackjack together with an often attractive dealer that interacts with the users and keeps them more engaged. The main goal of gambling is to win money. In gaming, the goal is to have bragging rights where a player can proudly show off what he achieved or how he dominated a match of Counter-Strike:GO or League of Legends.

Adopt the iGaming Model for Responsible Gaming

When it comes to gambling, the field of behavioural psychology is widely studied and documented. The causes and consequences of gambling addiction are well-known to the government, casino operators and the general public. In comparison, video gaming is a new field, only dating back 30-40 years. It's only in the past 10-20 years that gaming has become easily accessible through cheaper hardware in gaming units.

In addition, in later years anyone with a mobile phone can download free-to-play games. Because video gaming is so widespread today compared to the 90s, we see the consequences of addiction in video gaming on a larger scale. Players can go to extreme lengths trying to become skilled in a competitive game or reach a certain level in an MMORPG. In this process, it's easy to spend too much time in front of a game.

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Generally, the player wouldn't lose money when spending too much time on gaming. This doesn't mean that the activity doesn’t have harmful effects on other parts of the life of a gamer who is addicted. Gaming addiction can take over a person's life, and important real-life aspects are neglected in favour of playing. We still don't know enough about gaming addiction to pinpoint what are the causes of addiction and how to treat it.

In gambling, the most common direct consequence of problem gambling is financial. A user would lose more money than they can afford, they play more to win it back and instead end up losing more money. There are also second and third-order effects, such as relationships being damaged through lies and deceit, depression or other psychological disorder which impacts all areas of life, to further damage relationships or the loss of a job. The scenarios in gambling are well known. Governments use this information to regulate the iGaming industry. The iGaming industry, in turn, uses this data and information to educate personnel and develop software tools to help detect problematic users and give them help or stop them from playing.

In gaming addiction, the second and third-order effects mentioned for gambling can also be seen. The cause is different, but the consequences are similar due to spending too much time playing and neglecting everyday aspects of life which need to be dealt with. We still don't know how big of a problem gaming addiction is. We know it exists, and game developers and gaming companies should take it seriously.

Behavioural researchers will likely collaborate with governments to establish the causes and consequences of gaming addiction and then work with the gaming industry. This way, game developers and gaming companies can better track, measure and take action if they witness unhealthy behaviour, much in the same way that iGaming operators do in online casinos.

Gaming companies would be able to educate employees, players and develop tools in the same way that Jungleraja and Leovegas are doing to build long term sustainable businesses. With the right tools, a gaming producer could help combat addiction by requiring maximum limits for hours played in a week for example. This way they’d help minimize negative social effects, allow for healthy consumer relations and enjoy more goodwill around their brand and game titles.

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