Skill-based Games Give Aussies Illusion of Control Per Survey

A growing segment in the online gambling world is skill gaming. Skill-based Gambling Machines (SGMs) are big business in some parts of the world but have been slower to penetrate the Australian market.

A study from the Gambling Research Laboratory at Central Queensland University raises concerns over whether SGMs will cause a rise in problem gambling. Some argue that SGMs give players an illusion of control when casino games are primarily based on luck.

Study Shows That Skill-Based Games Give Illusion of Control

This past week, Central Queensland University released a report on “The Skill-Based Gambling in Australia.” Gambling Research Australia commissioned the study due to the proliferation of skill-based gaming in the United States over the last decade.

Alison Parkinson, the Director of the NSW Office of Responsible Gambling, is quoted as saying, “Skill-based gambling machines represent a real change to how gaming machines operate. As with any new product, it’s important we understand whether these innovations may increase the risk of gambling harm. This study shows that skill has little impact on the outcome of these games, and that participants should be aware of their real chances of winning.”

According to the study, skill-based games give an illusion of control. Customers believe they can influence the outcome despite the games being primarily luck-based. Furthermore, the study believes that this illusion of control may result in problem gambling for players.

The study further showed that players either don’t understand or overestimate the impact. Some did not know how much skill actually contributes to the outcome, while others believe their skill makes a significant impact.

Skill-Based Games Have Little Penetration in the Aussie Market

This study is more proactive than reactive. Presently, few clubs actually offer any form of skill-based pokies. The only title currently licensed in more than one Australian province is “Pop Shots Witches Coven.”

In the United States, skill-based games are big business. In some states, skill-based games are offered as alternatives to traditional pokies, known as slots in most countries. Operators have successfully argued that skill-based games are a legal alternative to slots in some states. In other states, skill-based games remain a legal grey area.

For example, the state of Virginia has legalised casinos in five locations but skill-based pokies in the majority of counties. Some skill game “arcades” are prevalent in various locations, looking more like slot parlours.

Skill-based games in grey area states often use gimmicks like point-based play rather than money-based play. Players purchase points that are used to gamble. When play concludes, the points can be reconverted to cash.

Skill Elements in SGMs Not Much Different Than in Some Table Games

If you closely look at skill games, you will soon discover that the skill element isn’t that different from what you see in table games like Blackjack or Baccarat. Many table games allow a player to use strategy to improve long-term results. However, the reality is that the house edge is never beaten in these games.

Casino games have a house edge that can only be reduced by strategy. However, it is never eliminated. Skill-based pokies are no exception. The primary difference between the two is that a significantly larger population of players play skill-based pokies over table games like blackjack. Also, the skill required in skill-based pokies is different for each game. In table games, basic strategy on blackjack is going to work on almost every form of blackjack.

The reality is that, despite strategy or skill, online casino games cannot be “beaten.” At best, you can reduce your losses over the long term. While there will be times you will win and maybe even win big, it is just short-term variance that will even out over time.

Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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